Tri-State strikes deal with environmental group to close PUC investigation

Westminster-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the state’s second largest power provider behind Xcel Energy, reached a deal with environmentalists Wednesday that prompted the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to close its case investigating stepped-up state oversight of the member-owned utility.

Western Resource Advocates, an environmental law and policy nonprofit with offices in seven states, including Colorado, brokered the deal with Tri-State that takes effect next year and allows public input during the utility’s resource planning process as well during PUC review of the plan.


The PUC opened a docket to look into increased oversight of Tri-State in January, responding to criticism that the utility was leaning too heavily on conventional power sources such as coal, while giving short shrift to renewable energy sources. But Tri-State lawyers in July questioned the PUC’s regulatory authority, pointing out member-owned co-ops have a long-standing tradition of autonomy in Colorado.

Since then, Tri-State, which provides power to 18 member-owned rural electric co-ops in Colorado and 26 others in New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska, has made significant clean-energy strides, investing in a utility-scale solar facility in New Mexico and wind farm in Colorado.

The new planning process will provide public input and scrutiny closer to the PUC’s hearing process for investor-owned Xcel. It was approved by the PUC at a meeting Wednesday, allowing the state regulatory board to close the docket it opened in January.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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