Tri-State G&T adds MIECO as its 1st non-utility member | CraigDailyPress.com

Tri-State G&T adds MIECO as its 1st non-utility member

Craig Press staff
An aerial view of Craig Station, part of Tri-State Generation & Transmission.
File Photo

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced this week the addition of MIECO Inc., as its first new, non-utility member.

According to a news release issued Tuesday, Aug. 3, Tri-State officials said the addition of MIECO, a wholesale energy services company, supports Tri-State’s transition to cleaner generation resources, including renewable energy and natural gas, and helps the cooperative meet the challenges of today’s competitive electric utility market.

MIECO, a subsidiary of Marubeni Corporation, is headquartered in California and has offices throughout the U.S. The company supplies natural gas to purchasers, including Tri-State for its power plants across its multi-state region.

“Tri-State is rapidly changing to be increasingly clean with more renewable resources,” said Tri-State CEO Duane Highley said in the news release. “Natural gas generation helps us reliably integrate renewables. Adding MIECO to our membership helps ensure that we have enough firm natural gas pipeline transportation capacity and fuel to supply our existing and any new natural-gas fired power plants.”

In a statement, MIECO said they’re ready to build deep relationships that will help build up natural gas and renewable transitions.

“MIECO looks forward to partnering as a member of Tri-State,” MIECO Vice-President Dave Engbrock said in the news release. “Our membership helps us deepen our relationship with Tri-State and recognizes the importance of natural gas for reliability in their transition to renewables.”

Tri-State has worked closely with MIECO in the past.

“We have been working with MIECO for years, and today we are further aligning our interests to the benefit of all our cooperative’s members,” Tri-State Chairman Rick Gordon said in the news release. “MIECO will be eligible for patronage capital allocations and have voting rights at all membership meetings, but will not have a seat on the Tri-State board of directors.”

The admission of MIECO, Tri-State’s first member that is neither a small electric cooperative nor a government entity, results in Tri-State becoming subject to rate regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Under the Federal Power Act, FERC regulates the rates of wholesale electric service and transmission providers.

Tri-State has considered FERC rate regulation since 2010, and in April 2019, the cooperative’s membership approved the ability for the board of directors to add new classes of members to the cooperative.

Tri-State said their move to FERC rate regulation is consistent with other similarly situated wholesale generation and transmission providers that have faced disparate rate treatment by different state regulators and opted to be rate regulated by FERC.

“Under FERC, Tri-State has consistent rate regulation and resolution, in one forum, of related wholesale power and transmissions matters, including participation in expanding organized wholesale energy markets and issues arising under other federal energy laws,” Tri-State officials said Tuesday.

The FERC regulates the wholesale rates of Xcel Energy/Public Service Company of Colorado, Public Service of New Mexico, PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power, Black Hills Energy, Southwestern Public Service and El Paso Energy.

Regulation by FERC will not affect resource planning, carbon reduction or renewable energy regulation in the states in which Tri-State and its members operate, according to Tri-State.

“Tri-State has and will continue to comply with state environmental, renewable energy and resource planning requirements and will continue to do so under FERC rate regulation,” Highley said in the news release. “The issue of FERC rate regulation is unrelated to those areas regulated by the states. We are committed, and required, to work with all New Mexico and Colorado state regulatory agencies, including the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on resource planning and the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on carbon reduction planning.”