Rural colorado deserves fair electric rates


The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is revising how it regulates electric utilities. This is an important opportunity to urge the PUC to help ensure fair electric rates for rural Colorado. Right now, most rural Coloradoans pay electric bills to electric cooperatives that buy power from Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association. But unlike other big electric utilities like Xcel, Tri-State can raise its rates and spend money on expensive coal plants without oversight from the PUC. The PUC has jurisdiction over Tri-State, but so far it hasn't exercised that oversight - and now rural Coloradoans are paying higher electric bills while Tri-State blocks co-ops from reducing costs with local renewable energy.

 

The Colorado PUC needs to hear from rural Coloradoans - submit a comment today.


submitting a public comment to the puc

1. Visit the PUC's Google Form for Filing a Comment:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclWDeNS2FCh0NdEijNU4igpUKqRZvTIYwZ8XSA2YYx3LF6qA/viewform

 

2. Select: "expressing an OPINION"

 

3. Choose the industry you are expressing an opinion about: "Electric"

 

4. Follow the directions on the next page that say, "Please continue by clicking on the following link:" 

 

5. Select: "Rule-making and Investigations Initiated by the Colorado PUC"

 

6. Select "19R-0096E- Rulemaking Proceeding Regarding Proposed Amendements to the Electric Rules..."

 

7. Enter personal information in required fields

 

8. Write comment in text box, and attach relevant attachments


Not sure what to write in your comment? Here is a sample!

 

Dear Public Utilities Commission,

 

I believe Tri-State Generation & Transmission, Inc. should be required to follow state electric resource planning rules and oversight just like other Colorado utilities such as Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy. Last year, Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan showed how a Colorado utility can retire existing coal plants, and replace them with cleaner, cheaper, modern alternatives.  Similar opportunities may exist on the Tri-State system, but due to a lack of transparency and oversight, we can’t be sure those options are being explored.

 

Many rural areas in the West, including Tri-State’s service territory, have opportunities to improve infrastructure for a transition to a clean and cost-effective energy future through transmission lines, wind turbines, and utility-scale solar and storage.  Rural communities should have access to new, clean, lower cost electricity, including local generation sources. Many rural communities are dependent on Tri-State's electricity mix and planning process, which devalues and discriminates against these local sources. 

 

 

As a part of the resource planning process, I ask that the PUC require utilities like Tri-State to conduct a robust economic analysis of existing resources to examine if existing power plants are competitive with new resources. This would ensure that Colorado consumers are getting the best deal when it comes to their electricity.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Name

Town/city where you live

 


Want to write something else but looking for ideas? The talking points below are useful starting points for you to write your own letter! 

 

Background

  • Eighteen rural electric cooperatives across Colorado purchase their electricity from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. 
  • Rural Coloradoans are paying higher electricity bills while Tri-State's restrictive contracts block co-ops from reducing costs by procuring more local, renewable energy.
  • Tri-State is not currently subject to the same regulations as other electric utilities in the state. Unlike public and investor owned utilities (IOUs) like Xcel and Black Hills Energy, Tri-State can raise its rates and purchase expensive assets such as coal plants without oversight from the PUC. 
  • We want the PUC to level the playing field and treat Tri-State like other utilities in Colorado. 

 

Talking Points

  • Tri-State G&T Association should be required to follow state electric resource planning rules.
  • Ask the PUC to level the playing field by providing the same oversight of cooperative utilities as they do investor-owned utilities like Black Hills Energy.
  • Urge the PUC to ensure access to renewable energy and fair prices across Colorado
  • Ask the PUC to oversee Tri-State's' price-setting to ensure that rural Colorado is paying fair prices and has access to clean, renewable energy.
  • Tri-State's' decisions are currently made by its member co-op board - one vote for each co-op member regardless of co-op size. The PUC should weigh in to ensure that the needs of all co-op members are equitably considered. 
  • Ask that the PUC require utilities like Tri-State to conduct a robust economic analysis of existing resources to examine if existing power plants are competitive with new resources. This would ensure that Colorado consumers are getting the best deal when it comes to their electricity.
  • Co-ops want to be able to pursue cheaper, cleaner, reliable and locally-sources power for their customers.
  • Taking advantage of Colorado's renewable energy resources will attract business and economic development to rural areas of the state.
  • Reducing electricity costs to farmers and ranchers will strengthen Colorado's ranching culture and its longterm vitality. 
  • If comparatively high electricity rates persist, industries will relocated out of Colorado to seek cheaper electricity with less restrictions on renewable energy development that allow them to brand themselves as clean energy producers. 
  • When industries relocate out of state to seek cheaper electricity rates local governments lose business and tax revenue.