Poudre Valley REA joins state commission battle over Tri-State exits

FORT COLLINS and DENVER — Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association Inc. is entering a legal battle between Westminster’s Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. and two of its customers over who has authority to cancel wholesale-power agreements.

In filings to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission Friday, Tri-State said the state doesn’t have authority to regulate it because of Congressional pre-emptions in the Federal Power Act. It also requested that the state pause litigation while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hears the arguments between Tri-State and its clients.

Durango-based La Plata Electric Association Inc. and Brighton-based United Power Inc. petitioned state regulators to intervene in November, saying Tri-State is refusing to give them and other members quotes for exit fees while it tries to become a federally regulated entity instead of one subject to regulators in states in which it operates. Tri-State has previously argued that the co-ops are using their complaints to strengthen their bargaining position as other Tri-State clients make new rules about ending contracts.

Additionally, PVREA filed a motion to intervene in LPEA and United Power’s cases, saying the outcome of those cases could allow other Tri-State members to leave en masse and leave remaining co-ops with long-term deals to shoulder a larger financial burden.

PVREA member relations manager David White told BizWest that the co-op doesn’t believe it can rely on either Tri-State or the other two co-ops to represent its interests or avoid a damaging precedent.

“If the (Public Utilities Commission) is going to make a ruling, they need to make that for all the Tri-State members, not just two,” he said.

LPEA and United Power made up about 21.8 percent of Tri-State’s revenue in 2019. Tri-State currently counts 43 member co-ops in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico.

FORT COLLINS and DENVER — Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association Inc. is entering a legal battle between Westminster’s Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. and two of its customers over who has authority to cancel wholesale-power agreements.

In filings to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission Friday, Tri-State said the state doesn’t have authority to regulate it because of Congressional pre-emptions in the Federal Power Act. It also requested that the state pause litigation while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hears the arguments between Tri-State and its clients.

Durango-based La Plata Electric Association Inc. and Brighton-based United Power Inc. petitioned state regulators to intervene in November, saying Tri-State is refusing to give them and other members quotes for exit fees while it tries to become a federally regulated entity instead of one subject to regulators in states in which it operates. Tri-State has previously argued that the co-ops are using their complaints to strengthen their bargaining position as other Tri-State clients make new rules about ending contracts.

Additionally, PVREA filed a motion to intervene in LPEA and United Power’s cases, saying the outcome of those cases could allow other Tri-State members to leave en masse and leave remaining co-ops with long-term deals to shoulder a larger financial burden.

PVREA member relations manager David White told BizWest that the co-op doesn’t believe it can rely on either Tri-State or the other two co-ops to represent its interests or avoid a damaging precedent.

“If the (Public Utilities Commission) is going to make a ruling, they…