Tri-State is advancing emissions reduction goals outlined in our Responsible Energy Plan
In recent weeks, some have misinterpreted the 'business as usual' scenario in a resource assessment filing Tri-State made in June 2020 with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. This filing does not reflect the emissions reduction goals in our Responsible Energy Plan.
This has led some to mistakenly believe that Tri-State has changed these carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.
Emissions information misinterpreted in recent Colorado PUC resource assessment
To be very clear, we have not changed our carbon dioxide reduction goals, and specifically, we have not decreased our carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals to 34% by 2030.
In this article, we discuss Tri-State's carbon dioxide emissions reductions goals, the Colorado electric resource planning process and the significant steps we are taking to reduce emissions.
Tri-State's carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals remain unchanged
We worked closely with our members, state leaders in Colorado and a diverse group of stakeholders on our Responsible Energy Plan, which we announced in January 2020. The plan includes significant carbon dioxide emissions reductions in Colorado, with targets from a 2005 baseline for:
- 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions across the generation facilities we own or operate in Colorado by 2030; and
- 70% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions associated with wholesale electric sales to our Colorado members, also by 2030.
These goals for emissions reductions have not changed, and support the State of Colorado's goals to significantly decrease statewide greenhouse gas emissions.
Tri-State has already made progress to increase renewables and decrease emissions as we maintain reliability, lower rates and open up new opportunities for our members to develop even more local renewable resources.
Colorado electric resource planning process includes a new filing requirement
In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed a new law with resource planning requirements for wholesale cooperatives, including Tri-State.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission then created electric resource planning rules for wholesale cooperatives. These rules require Tri-State to make two filings:
- A resource assessment that identifies and assesses existing resources - Tri-State filed this assessment in June 2020.
- An electric resource plan that puts forth a preferred resource plan with supporting analysis that meets regulatory requirements and Tri-State's goals - Tri-State will file the plan in December 2020.
The purpose of the resource assessment and the information it contains has caused a lot of confusion for some, and has been misrepresented in several forums. That may be understandable, as the resource assessment filing is a new part of the commission's resource planning process.
The root of the confusion is that the resource assessment filing considers some of the elements of our Responsible Energy Plan, but not all of the elements that will result in Colorado emissions reductions.
Assertions that Tri-State has reduced our carbon dioxide emission reduction goals are mistakenly based on the resource assessment's "business as usual" scenario that does not account for the additional steps Tri-State will take to meet our carbon dioxide reduction goals.
Tri-State was clear in the resource assessment filing that it did not represent our path forward. We explicitly cautioned that "greenhouse gas reduction requirements in the state of Colorado are not reflected in these numbers," and that our greenhouse gas reduction strategy would be developed in conjunction with proceedings at the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and through the electric resource planning process at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Tri-State will file our full electric resource plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in December 2020. That filing will appropriately include plans that will entail how Tri-State will meet our aggressive carbon dioxide reduction targets in Colorado.
Meaningful steps we are taking to reduce emissions
We are leading a clean energy transition. Together with our electric cooperatives and public power district members, we are expanding renewable energy generation and reducing emissions while ensuring reliable, affordable and responsible electricity for the communities we power.
In January 2020, Tri-State announced our Responsible Energy Plan. The plan includes several major components, including:
- 50% of all the electricity our members consumer will be renewable by 2024;
- Eliminate all emissions from our coal plants in Colorado and New Mexico by 2030;
- More local renewables for members through contract flexibility;
- Capturing the benefits of regional markets by participating in a regional transmission organization;
- Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure and beneficial electrification; and
- Community and employee transition support.
We are already taking significant steps to reduce emissions.
Tri-State retired our Nucla Station coal-fired power plan in western Colorado in 2019. Last month, our only remaining coal-fired plant in New Mexico went offline for the last time and we had previously retired our share of another coal-fired plant in New Mexico.
By 2030, when Tri-State retires the last of three generation unites at Craig Station, we will no longer produce electricity from coal in Colorado.
Tri-State will add an additional 1,000 megawatts of solar and wind power by 2024, when 50% of the energy our member distribution cooperatives use will come from emissions-free electricity.
We will then continue to add renewables to help meet our members' energy needs. Construction is proceeding in Colorado on the first eight new planned renewable energy projects to serve our members.
The bottom line: Our goals have not changed
Tri-State and our members remain focused on implementing the carbon dioxide emission reduction goals stated in our Responsible Energy Plan. We look forward to providing further details on our energy transition in upcoming months, which will continue our path to provide our members with reliable, affordable, responsible power well into the future.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts 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 and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.