This blog series covers the monthly La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors meetings. We’re tracking the board for transparency and accountability, as well as to stay current on their renewable energy initiatives. Find past and future spotlights here.
LPEA asks the PUC to Intervene
Last July, LPEA asked Tri-State for an estimation of its buyout number so that the co-op evaluate all its options in its pursuit for affordable, responsible power.
That was four months ago.
Since then, Tri-State has declared a moratorium on issuing buyout numbers, and so has not responded to LPEA’s request for its exit charge estimate. This month, LPEA filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and asked them to help determine a “just, reasonable, nondiscriminatory” exit fee.
In their complaint , LPEA argued that Tri-State’s policy of open and voluntary membership, and the right to leave that membership, are “empty promises”.
United Power, a Tri-State cooperative based outside of Denver, separately filed the same complaint with the PUC. United is the largest Tri-State co-op, and together LPEA and United make up 20% of Tri-State’s total electricity load.
Time is of the essence during this process, especially since Tri-State is still pursuing federal regulation to replace current regulation at the PUC. Though their application was denied in October, Tri-State is confident that they will quickly be admitted under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Proceedings under FERC would be more onerous and expensive for co-ops, so it could be advantageous for co-ops to get as much done under the PUC while they still can. Plus, as CEO Jessica Matlock put it, “LPEA has a responsibility to its members to examine future power supply options, and it can’t weigh those options without a fair exit charge estimate.”
The PUC has ordered Tri-State to respond to the complaints and set hearings for January 21st and 22nd, 2020. Stay tuned for updates on this progress- we’ll be tracking the progress of this complaint and keep you in the loop on what’s going on.
Tri-State’s Credit Drops
S&P lowered Tri-State’s credit rating from an A to an A- this November. Tri-State’s strong credit rating is something they have long touted as a sign of their financial stability, but the prognosis in S&P’s report was bleak. The outlook was negative; S&P does not anticipate raising Tri-State’s score in the next few years and could even lower it further.
LPEA and United’s filing with the PUC were cited as major reasons for the downgrade, as was Tri-State’s broader inability to placate member unrest. Perhaps if Tri-State had listened to member concerns, allowed for greater flexibility in local generation, and been more forward-thinking about diversifying their portfolio, they wouldn’t be here.
Next LPEA Meetings:
December Board Meeting: Wednesday December 18th at LPEA Headquarters. Public comment is at 9am.
Call or email your LPEA Board Directors.
(Hover over your neighborhood for contact information!)