Advancement of reliable, affordable, responsible power highlighted at Tri-State's 70th Annual Meeting
- Tri-State accelerates Responsible Energy Plan transition, reaching milestones including 4% wholesale rate reduction, entry into two electricity markets, renewable energy additions, advancement of contract flexibility and federal regulatory rate approvals.
- Board Executive Committee officers reelected.
(April 6, 2022 – Westminster, Colo.) The strength of the cooperative business model to meet the changing needs of electricity consumers was on full display in Westminster, Colo., at the 70th Annual Meeting of wholesale power supply cooperative Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.
Under the theme of Driving Change, Chairman Tim Rabon, who also serves as a Trustee of Otero County Electric Cooperative in Cloudcroft, N.M., highlighted to the more than 450 member attendees and guests in attendance that 2021 will prove to be one of most pivotal years in the history of Tri-State.
“What our members have accomplished together in 2021 sets the stage for the long-term health and success of Tri-State,” said Rabon. “Our members provided the direction and support that ensures that Tri-State will be stronger than ever before, and will continue to be so well into the future.”
Chief Executive Officer Duane Highley spoke to Tri-State’s rapid transition, emphasizing the importance of reliability as the power supply cooperative lowers wholesale rates, increases clean energy, decreases emissions, and delivers greater flexibility and expanded energy services for its members.
“Tri-State is driving change, not reacting to change, and the pace has never been faster,” said Highley. “We’re paving a new road, making an incredible transition with our members that is important not just this year or next. It’s a generational change that will serve our members for decades to come.”
Tri-State reduces wholesale rates to members by 4%
Treasurer Stuart Morgan, who also serves as director of the Wheat Belt Public Power District in Sidney, Neb., reported on Tri-State’s 2021 financial performance, including revenues of $1.4 billion, net margin of $26 million, which is allocated to the cooperative’s members, and a year-over-year reduction in debt. In December 2021, Tri-State announced the return of $10 million in patronage capital to its members.
“Tri-State is fortunate to have the strength to implement significant changes, all while maintaining a stable and reliable system,” said Morgan. “In March of 2021, and again in of March 2022, Tri-State reduced its wholesale rates to members by 2%, for a total 4% rate reduction.”
Morgan noted that the Winter Storm Uri in February 2021 did not result in higher wholesale rates for Tri-State’s members, while other electric utilities experienced significant rate impacts from the storm.
Tri-State joins two electricity markets, increasing efficiency of transmission system
To use the transmission system more efficiently, better integrate renewable resources and dispatch the lowest cost resources, Tri-State joined two energy imbalance markets in 2021. Tri-State was a founding member of the Southwest Power Pool’s Western Energy Imbalance Service (SPP WEIS) market when it launched in February 2021, and expanded its participation in the California System Independent System Operator Western Energy Imbalance Market (CAISO WEIM) energy market in April 2021.
By joining these markets, Tri-State currently has 80% of its load within an energy imbalance market or regional transmission organization (RTO). In April 2023, when its remaining Colorado load is anticipated to also participate in the SPP WEIM, Tri-State will have 100% of its load in an organized market. Tri-State continues to evaluate participation in an expansion of the SPP RTO in the West.
Renewable additions, resource planning and energy as a service advance clean energy goals
Advancing the goals set in January 2020 with the announcement of its Responsible Energy Plan, Tri-State added 304 megawatts of wind resources in 2021 with the completion of the Niyol Wind Energy Center near Fleming, Colo., and the Crossing Trails Wind Farm near Seibert, Colo. Tri-State will add another 735 megawatts of solar power in Colorado and New Mexico in 2023 and 2024.
Work on Tri-State’s 2020 Electric Resource Plan (ERP) advanced through 2021, resulting in a landmark settlement on Phase I of the plan among Tri-State utility members, environmental organizations, state agencies and labor organizations. The plan sets near-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals related to Tri-State’s wholesale electricity sales in Colorado, leading to an 80% reduction in 2030 from 2005 levels. An administrative law judge for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recommended approval of the settlement in March 2022. Tri-State’s ERP identifies an additional 2,000 megawatts of renewables and storage capacity by 2030, supporting its Responsible Energy Plan goal for 70% clean energy systemwide.
Following engagement with stakeholders in 2021, in February 2022 Tri-State filed with the CPUC for additions to its transmission system in eastern Colorado that support Tri-State’s multi-state transmission system to accommodate the interconnection of up to 700 megawatts of additional renewable energy capacity by 2028.
In December 2021, Tri-State announced Reg Rudolph had joined its senior leadership team in the newly created role of Chief Energy Innovations Officer. Rudolph leads the expansion of competitive energy services that deliver value and optimize the interactions between consumers, the cooperative’s 42 member distribution systems and Tri-State.
Wholesale rate, transmission tariffs approved by federal regulators
Tri-State made significant progress at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with approval of its wholesale rates, its first major rate case before the federal agency, in August 2021. FERC also approved an uncontested comprehensive settlement of Tri-State’s Open Access and Transmission Tariff that was reached in October 2021.
Tri-State advanced dockets before the FERC that provide contract flexibility, including partial requirements contracts that provide options for members to self-supply more power. In May 2021, Tri-State announced that three utility members nominated a total of 203 megawatts of an available 300 MW of self-supply capacity.
Executive Committee officers reelected
Following the annual meeting, the executive committee of Tri-State's Board of Directors was seated, including six officers and three at-large positions.
Rabon, who has served on Tri-State’s board since 2014, was re-elected as chairman. Don Keairns, representing San Isabel Electric Association (Pueblo West, Colo.), was re-elected vice chairman. Julie Kilty, who has represented Wyrulec Company (Torrington, Wyo.) on the Tri-State board since 2012, was re-elected secretary. Morgan, who has represented Wheat Belt Public Power District on the Tri-State board since 2007, was re-elected treasurer, a position he first assumed in 2012.
Matt Brown, who has represented High Plains Power (Riverton, Wyo.) on the Tri-State board since 2010, was re-elected assistant secretary. Scott Wolfe, representing San Luis Valley REC (Monte Vista, Colo.) was re-elected assistant secretary; Wolfe joined Tri-State's board of directors in 2008.
The Executive Committee's three at-large positions were seated with incumbents Wayne Connell representing Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative (Mountainair, N.M.), Shawn Turner, representing The Midwest Electric Cooperative (Grant, Neb.), and Thaine Michie representing Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (Fort Collins, Colo.).
Tri-State is a power supply cooperative of 45 members, operating on a not-for-profit basis, including 42 utility electric distribution cooperative and public power district members in four states that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State, visit www.tristate.coop.
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Certain information contained in this press statement are forward-looking statements including statements concerning Tri-State’s plans, future events, and other information that is not historical information. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described from time to time in Tri-State’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tri-State’s expectations and beliefs are expressed in good faith, and Tri-State believes there is a reasonable basis for them. However, Tri-State cannot assure you that management’s expectations and beliefs will be achieved. There are a number of risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained herein.