Tri-State sets goal to reduce wholesale rates, implements partial requirements contracts in 2021
In an ongoing effort to implement commitments it made in January 2020 through its Responsible Energy Plan, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced today its ambitious goal to lower wholesale rates for its utility members by 8% by the end of 2023, as it continues to dramatically increase its renewable resources and reduce emissions.
The cooperative power supplier also announced a specific process to implement partial requirements contracts with its utility members. This will allow members to supply more power locally, beginning with an “open season” period in early 2021 for members to express specific interest in a portion of the 300 megawatts available.
“As we increase renewables and decrease emissions in our Responsible Energy Plan, we are also delivering on our commitment to lower, more competitive rates for our members, and greater contract flexibility to self-supply power and locally-produced renewable energy,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State CEO. “Today’s announcements are another step forward, as we continue to work to provide reliable, affordable and responsible energy.”
Tri-State will implement its 8% wholesale rate reduction goal over the next three years. Tri-State has achieved stable wholesale rates for the past four years and rates remain stable in 2021. The cooperative’s board of directors recognizes the need to further support members facing economic challenges brought on in part by the coronavirus pandemic. Today’s announcement, following a board meeting this week, is the first phase of plans to keep forecasted rates stable through 2050.
“Both our aggressive rate reduction goal and the additional contract flexibility keep Tri-State on-track to meet the targets put forward in our Responsible Energy Plan, and our energy transition is already delivering increasingly clean, affordable and reliable power,” said Rick Gordon, chairman of the Tri-State board and director of the Mountain View Electric Association in Limon, Colo.
Tri-State’s members broadly support the board’s actions.
“Today, the Tri-State board took a step forward to allow the potential of greater contract flexibility, which will help Poudre Valley REA achieve our 80 by 30 renewable energy goal,” said Jeff Wadsworth, CEO of Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association. “When you couple this with Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan and their commitment to reduce rates, the near-term impacts are meaningful to our co-op and, most importantly, our member-owners. The clean energy transition has begun.”
Partial requirements contracts provide even more flexibility for member self-supply and renewables
Tri-State’s board of directors approved flexible partial requirements contracts. Utility members of Tri- State can express their intent to transition to partial requirements contracts by participating in an early 2021 open season period to allocate an aggregate 300 megawatts of system-wide member self-supply capacity. The open season capacity is 10% of Tri-State’s system peak demand.
Under the new contract, utility members can self-supply up to 50% of their load requirements, subject to availability in the open season, in addition to the current 5% self-supply provisions and a new community solar provision. In late 2019, the board of directors approved a membership Contract Committee’s recommendation to expand member opportunities for community solar projects.
The Contract Committee thoroughly reviewed proposals that could increase contract flexibility for member self-supply of power and the further development of local renewable resources.
“This is yet another milestone day for the Tri-State family, and cooperatives have again demonstrated how we deliver on our commitments,” Jack Johnston, CEO of Tri-State member Southeast Colorado Power Association said. “For more than a year, the Contract Committee of Tri-State’s members worked diligently through analytical evaluations to develop a new form membership that would increase self- supply flexibility for those who want it, without penalizing those who do not.”
“Together, Tri-State’s membership debated and discussed, and ultimately the vast majority of our members agreed to what would work best and what was fair for all of us. That is the cooperative way,” Johnston said.
Tri-State noted that for several years, its members have taken advantage of provisions in their current contracts with Tri-State that to develop renewable energy projects to serve up to 5% of their communities’ energy needs. These policies have been very successful: half of our members have chosen to take part in programs to develop local renewables, with 130 megawatts in place or under development.
Stakeholder process informed goal of Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan
Tri-State’s plan was informed by input from a collaboration with an external advisory group – convened and facilitated by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr. and the Center for the New Energy Economy – composed of stakeholders gathered from across the region and across interests.
“Tri-State’s announcements today show they are meeting the commitments they laid out in January in their Responsible Energy Plan,” Ritter said. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Tri-State and various stakeholders to reach this point, and look forward to continuing to work with Tri-State on its transition.”
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The price tag for Xcel Energy closing all its Colorado coal-fired plants will be $1.4 billion spread over decades — a sum that will be paid exclusively by the utility’s residential and commercial customers.