Tri-State’s financials attacked by WildEarth Guardians | CraigDailyPress.com

Tri-State’s financials attacked by WildEarth Guardians

Patrick Kelly

In a recent column, John Horning, executive director of WildEarth of Guardians, made allegations about the finances of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — an energy cooperative the Guardians have become intimately associated with through a federal lawsuit.

"Tri-State, the owners of the Colowyo mine, reported a $40 million loss on (Colowyo) in 2014," Horning stated.

A look at Tri-State Generation and Transmission's, 2014 annual report provides clarification on that figure.

In 2014, Tri-State's coal mining expenses equated to $40,848,900, the third smallest contributor to the Tri-State's total operational expenses of $1,068,359,000.

On the other hand, Tri-State reported roughly $1.4 billion in operational revenues for 2014 — meaning Colowyo was not "in the red," as Horning wrote in his column.

Drew Kramer, public affairs manager for Tri-State said in statement, "As a member-owned cooperative operating on a not-for-profit basis, Tri-State purchased Colowyo Mine in 2011 to ensure a fuel source to generate affordable power for the benefit of Tri-State's member electric cooperatives. Since that time, the mine and its employees have been both a source of pride and a source of reliable, high-quality, cost-effective fuel for Tri-State's operations."

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Tri-State is an electric power supplier owned by the 44 electric cooperatives that it serves. It generates and transmits electricity to its member systems throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

In 2014, Tri-State sold 18.7 megawatt-hours between members and nonmembers while generating 1,866 megawatts from coal, 897 from natural gas and oil and 863 from renewable energy resources.

Tri-State also completed a debt refinancing in 2014, which accounted for "upward pressure" on the associations' rates.

"Tri-State was faced with a 'front-end loading' of increasing principal payments that were exerting upward pressure on the association's rates. The new refinancing extends those higher principal payments into the future to better match financing to the life of our assets. This action moderates upward rate pressure and reduces the amount of future borrowing required for capital needs," said Pat Bridges, Tri-State's senior vice president and Chief Financial Officer in the cooperative's 2014 annual report.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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