Colorado’s second-largest electric provider is set to lose 25% of its revenue as customers flee

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is at a crossroads as its 42 rural co-ops look to generate more of their own electricity or buy it on the open market

Mark Jaffe
The Colorado Sun
San Isabel Solar Project north of Trinidad links to a transmission line owned by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The 30 megawatt solar project is one of three supplying power to Tri-State.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission/Courtesy photo

Colorado’s second-largest electricity provider — the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — is set to lose nearly a quarter of its revenue as member electric cooperatives wholly or partially leave the group, a potentially crippling blow.

But what it will mean for the nonprofit provider of wholesale power to 42 rural co-ops in four states, including 17 in Colorado with 862,000 customers, remains uncertain as it awaits decisions in several cases pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

What is clear, executives at member co-ops, industry analysts, and competing power wholesalers say, is that the 75-year-old Tri-State is at a crossroads.

Some cooperatives are looking to generate more of their own electricity or buy it on the open market, hence the loss of revenue. At the same time, there is increasing pressure on the association, once heavily powered by coal-fired generation, to move to wind, solar and energy storage.

“The all-powerful generation and transmission model that has dominated the West is breaking down,” said Seth Feaster, an energy analyst with the nonprofit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “Tri-State is not going to come out of this process the way it looked before.”


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