Tri-State trying to corral, negotiate with angry members
Tri-State Generation and Transmission wants the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to dismiss a complaint filed by two Tri-State members that want to leave the electric co-op.
In a news release Dec. 20, Tri-State said it is seeking a declaratory order in court to confirm that it is subject to federal rate regulation and dismiss the complaint by United Power and La Plata Electric Association on the basis the Colorado Public Utilities Commission lacks jurisdiction.
According to a November report in the Craig Press, United Power and La Plata Electric are asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to set reasonable fees for them to exit Tri-State in the near future after becoming frustrated, and largely fed up with their negotiations with the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.
The public call for help came about a month after the Delta-Montrose Electric Association and the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative left the power wholesaler. DMEA co-op members voted in October on new incorporation articles enabling DMEA to use a limited stock issue to raise the cash needed to pay Tri-State an exit fee.
“Tri-State remains committed to complying with all state requirements for resource planning, carbon reduction and meeting renewable energy standards,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State’s CEO. We believe the issue at hand, however, is a matter of federal jurisdiction and is not within the purview of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.”
Tri-State said in the release they don’t think courts should be making decisions on ongoing negotiations.
“In its filing with the CPUC today (Dec. 20), Tri-State noted that a decision on the members’ filings is not ripe for adjudication,” the release said. “Both LPEA and United Power are willingly and actively participating in contract discussions with Tri-State’s other members in a Contract Committee at the same time they are attempting to litigate at the CPUC.”
Tri-State is trying to keep jurisdiction underneath a federal umbrella.
“The Colorado Public Utilities Commission should never hear these complaints,” said Jack Johnston, vice-chair of Tri-State’s contract committee and CEO of La Junta, Colo-based Southeast Colorado Power Association, in the release. “Contracts are central to how members work together within Tri-State, and if our membership cannot resolve a contract issue, then the issue must be addressed at the FERC, which has sole jurisdiction.”
Tri-State is seeking to secure from the federal government the ability to set taxes.
“Separately, Tri-State also announced today (Dec. 20) that it is refiling for tariff authority with the FERC; an initial application was dismissed without prejudice in early October 2019,” Tri-State said in their release. “While it is FERC jurisdictional, Tri- State is also asking the FERC for a declaratory order to confirm that it is subject to FERC jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act. Tri-State’s filing is being processed and will be dated by the FERC as being officially filed on Monday, December 23.”