United Power’s Complaint Against Wholesale Power Supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission Can Proceed Following Ruling by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Brighton, CO – A ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday was a mixed bag for Tri-State Generation and Transmission, but a potential win for United Power and its members. The ruling stated that a complaint filed by United Power at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) can proceed. The complaint, filed in November of 2019, asks the PUC to help determine “reasonable and non-discriminatory exit charges” for United Power to leave its contract with Tri-State. In addition, FERC concluded that Tri-State has been FERC regulated since September 3, 2019 when Tri-State added their first non-utility member. However, the ruling also stated, should the Colorado PUC or its courts find the addition of this non-utility member a violation of State law, FERC could reconsider this ruling.
“United Power has been very methodical in our approach to determining our course forward in regard to wholesale power,” stated Dean Hubbuck, Chief Energy Resource Officer. “We are weighing the cost and mix of power we receive from Tri-State with other options in the energy marketplace, and we need the PUC to provide an accurate and fair exit charge so we can make good decisions for our Cooperative’s future on behalf of our membership.”
United Power is Tri-State’s largest wholesale power purchaser, comprising approximately 16% of their total energy sales. Under the current Tri-State contract, United Power has struggled to exercise more control over their costs of wholesale power, and the limits in place for the integration of more renewable energy resources. In filing the complaint with the PUC, United Power is hoping to finally determine an accurate and reasonable cost to exit their power contract, should they choose to do so.
“From the beginning, United Power has tried to partner with Tri-State by providing several suggested paths for these discussions to continue in a productive manner. However, we have not been able to agree on a method suitable to both parties,” stated Bryant Robbins, CEO. “Simply put, United Power wants to lower costs to our members and integrate more local renewable resources into our power mix. One option to achieve this goal is through exiting our contract with Tri-State. We hope a ruling by the PUC will help us clarify the costs and provide an exit pricing methodology that is both clear and fair to our membership and the membership of Tri-State.”
Considering the FERC ruling, on March 23, 2020, United Power filed a request for a status conference with the PUC and plans to move forward in obtaining the information requested.
“As a cooperative we have a duty to advocate on behalf of our local membership,” stated Robbins. “We will continue to work through the PUC to get an accurate and fair exit price so we can better understand our path forward.”
United Power is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative delivering electricity to nearly 95,000 meters at homes, business, and farms in Colorado's north central front range. For more information about the cooperative, visit www.unitedpower.com or follow them on social media at facebook.com/unitedpower or twitter.com/unitedpowercoop.