Background info: Tri-State G&T operates in 4 states and is subject to oversight from utility regulatory agencies in each state. This means that rate disputes such as the current DMEA exit fee case are reviewed by state agencies, in this case, the Colorado PUC. After the 2019 legislative session, Tri-State G&T's resource planning is now subject to PUC oversight, as well. Despite declining to go under federal regulation in TK, Tri-State is now taking steps toward this move.
Recent events: June 5th - Tri-State sends issue brief to its member cooperatives outlining steps for Tri-State to add a new non-rural co-op to Tri-State G&T, removing Tri-State from Colorado PUC jurisdiction to FERC.
FERC rate regulation could impact the dispute between Tri-State and Delta-Montrose Electric Association by eliminating state jurisdiction over buyouts. Furthermore, it is unclear whether or not FERC oversight would pre-empt new Colorado laws requiring the Colorado PUC to review and enforce Tr-State's Energy Resource Planning. It is possible that this change could undermine recent Colorado and New Mexico legislation mandating greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the electric utility sector.
Tri-State insists that this has nothing to do with the DMEA case or the new NM and Colorado state legislation, but claims instead that it’s just easier to have the 4 states within Tri-State regulated under one agency.
Tri-State plans to vote on this motion at the Board of Directors meeting in July.
La Plata Electric, DMEA, and United Power have signed a join letter to Tri-State asking that they slow down and postpone the vote. San Miguel Power voted this week to send an independent letter to Tri-State asking that Tri-State delay the vote and let their newly-formed contract committee do its work of determining how and why new contracts can be formed.
It is important to delay any vote on the issue of moving to FERC oversight until all member cooperatives have had a chance to study and understand the consequences of such a decision.