Tri-State to lower rates, United Power still dissatisfied

United Power says flexibility, not price, is main issue with rates

Liam Adams
ladams@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/9/21

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a rate reduction or wholesale power that Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells member cooperatives. The Westminster-based energy company will …

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Tri-State to lower rates, United Power still dissatisfied

United Power says flexibility, not price, is main issue with rates

Posted

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a rate reduction or wholesale power that Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells member cooperatives.

The Westminster-based energy company will lower rates by a 4% total by March 2022. It already lowered rates by 2% that went into effect in March 2021, and it will lower rates by another 2% by next March. It will also establish a rate moratorium until September 2023, according to a news release.

The rate reductions are part of a “Responsible Energy Plan” that Tri-State announced in January 2020, but the maneuver also follows criticism about wholesale rates from member cooperatives including Brighton-based United Power.

“We are pleased with this outcome and FERC’s approval of the settlement, which provides both a significant wholesale rate reduction and rate certainty going forward for our utility members,” said Tri-State CEO Duane Highley in a press release on Aug. 3.

The federal energy regulatory commission affirmed in September 2020 that it has exclusive jurisdiction over Tri-State’s rates, not the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The price of Tri-State’s rates is one issue that United Power has criticized its parent cooperative about in a years-long debate that has led United Power to try to buy out of its contract with Tri-State. Yet, United Power didn’t celebrate FERC’s decision about Tri-State’s rate reduction, saying the problem is just as much with the flexibility of the rates as it is with the price.

“To achieve this goal means a radical re-envisioning of the G&T (generation and transmission) model, one in which utility members can purchase as much — or as little — power as they need to support their communities,” said United Power President and CEO Mark Gabriel in a new release on Aug. 5.

Currently, United Power’s contract with Tri-State allows the Brighton company to purchase a limited amount of power, specifically renewable energy, from other suppliers.

Tri-State and United Power still await a decision from FERC about an exit fee that United Power would need to pay to buy out of its contract with Tri-State. A judge with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission ruled in favor of a lower exit fee that United Power came up with, though Tri-State appealed the decision with FERC.

Gabriel said in the news release, “United Power does not necessarily want to terminate its contract with Tri-State, although obtaining a reasonable price for termination would be a starting point for any analysis.”

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