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.
Because of you, LPEA is hiring professional consultants to investigate the future of energy here in southwest Colorado.
Last August, after a year and a half of member-owner pressure to do so, LPEA’s Board of Directors voted 11-1 to create a Power Supply Committee to research the future of the energy industry and determine the best direction for the co-op and its members.
This month, after much deliberation, discussion, and debate, the Power Supply Committee voted unanimously to hire consulting firms to research LPEA’s options.
- Enchantment Energy Consulting LLC and Rio Energy LLC (EEC-RIO), both based in Albuquerque, will work together to study our all-requirements contract with Tri-State.
- Salt Lake City-based Energy Strategies will analyze the wholesale power market and identify potential new suppliers.
Each consultant has proposed a tentative timeline and they will present their findings to the LPEA Board by April of 2019.
This is BIG news! By hiring outside consultants, LPEA is embarking on a thoughtful, unbiased review of threats and opportunities in our coop’s future. With the price of renewables plummeting and the price of coal continuing to rise, we need to figure out an energy strategy fast before we get trapped with expensive, dirty energy for good.
We aren’t the only co-op looking warily at the future of fossil fuels, either. Poudre Valley Electric Association unanimously passed a resolution requesting that Tri-State “work expeditiously” to determine if changing their fuel mix would lower rates to members. They cited the August 2018 RMI report, which found that Tri-State could save hundreds of millions of dollars by transitioning to renewable energy.
LPEA is working towards a future securing the most affordable and responsible future for all of us. Their decision to hire consultants is the next huge step, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
Tri-State Fights Back
As part of a past legal settlement, Tri-State agreed to give LPEA a letter authorizing them to receive proposals from other, potentially less expensive energy suppliers. Tri-State has since made modifications to this letter that may scare off future contractors and power suppliers from doing business with LPEA. As of right now, the letter isn’t stopping LPEA from investigating our options but it could be a big roadblock in the future.
What’s more, Tri-State executives dismissed LPEA’s concerns during a phone call at a recent board meeting. LPEA board directors voiced reservations about both Tri-State’s massive debts and growing evidence that their reliance on coal is economically unviable. Tri-State wrote off director’s fears, asserting that their debt structures and banking partnerships were more robust than ever. They claimed that LPEA’s directors just didn’t get it, and offered to fly to Durango to meet the Board in person. As a result, there’s a chance Tri-State executives will attend LPEA’s December 10th Committee of the Whole Meeting.
How might Tri-State explain away their reliance on an obsolete fuel source, their ever-growing debt, and their unwillingness to work together with LPEA for a more affordable, responsible future? We’re not sure, but we’ll be there to watch what happens and we hope you will too.
The Power Supply Committee and LPEA’s current commitment to analyzing our options only happened because of you. Remember, LPEA is owned by you, the members. The future of LPEA’s energy supply continues to rest in your hands– don’t let it slip away!
Email your LPEA Directors, ask questions, thank them for creating the Power Supply Committee, and voice your support for unbiased studies by the new consultants. Your board members are working for you, so stay engaged and keep voicing your opinion.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LPEA voted 7-5 during their last board meeting to approve an inline item in the 2019 budget for $50,000 to 4CORE. 4C0RE promotes resource conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy to help LPEA members save on their electric bill. Directors Bassett, Landis, Lynch, Skeehan, Turner, Unger and Wheeler voted for the amendment. Directors Alley, Huntington, Lyon, McInnis and Montoya dissented.
December 6th: Power Supply Committee Meeting 10-1, open to the public from 12-1.
December 10th: Committee of the Whole at 9 am. Tri-State might attend
December 12th: Board Meeting. Public comment is at 9 am.
Call or email your LPEA Board Directors.
(Hover over your neighborhood for contact information!)
Sounds good. I’m wonderng, though, if current (and perhaps short term projected) energy cost needs to be the only criterion. With massive, expensive and life-taking weather events occuring nearly every week, at least heavily influenced by global climate change, perhaps a broader and longer term perspective is needed. And perhaps health risks and other externalities should also be factored in. These are also costs — just not borne by the rate payer, necessarily.