Big news today in the renewable energy and rural electric cooperative world: the CO Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled that it has the authority to determine whether Tri-State is charging Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) a just and reasonable price to buy out of its contract. In fact, the PUC rejected Tri-State’s argument to dismiss the case because the exit fee should be considered a “contractual dispute,” ruling the commission has jurisdiction over the buyout charge because it is a statutory issue. Read the Durango Herald article (2/15/19).

DMEA has been exploring buying out of its contract because they are interested in developing more local renewable energy than allowed under its contract with Tri-State while also wanting to address rising prices in electricity. This sounds a lot like our community’s ongoing effort to cultivate leadership on the LPEA Board of Directors to explore ways to support local, renewable energy  – buyout or no buyout. That is why a subcommittee to review power options was formed late last year. Local First has been a leading voice on these issues, and it looks like our collective work, not only in the LPEA region, but in the greater Tri-State region, is starting to gain some traction. And, we now have a Board of Directors that is stepping out on these issues as evidenced by the January vote to cut its carbon footprint by 50 percent and keep costs lower than 70 percent of its peer cooperatives in Colorado by 2030. (Durango Herald, 1/20/19).

HOW TO ENGAGE: La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) will reprise its free community education series on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 with a discussion of Beneficial Electrification, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., lunch included. All community members are invited.

Consider attending this LPEA meeting to engage on this important issue both as a business owner and a community member.