Archive for the 'Public Meetings' Category

McInnes testifies on Clean Power Plan at Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing

Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes

Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes

US Capitol Building, Washington DC – Tri-State works hard to keep electricity reliable and affordable for our members, and part of that effort includes the thorough review of any new regulations that would impact our industry.

Helping to elevate our association’s perspective to a national level, CEO Mike McInnes recently provided testimony at a hearing on the “Implications of the Supreme Court Stay on the Clean Power Plan” before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 

In his testimony to the committee on June 9, McInnes emphasized how, “as a cooperative, Tri-State operates differently and has different risks compared to investor-owned and municipal utilities, a fact EPA ignored in the Clean Power Plan and why Tri-State and other cooperatives were active in the rulemaking process and challenged the rule in court.”

Unlike investor-owned utilities whose rate of return gives these utilities an incentive to build new infrastructure, cooperatives and their members bear the full cost of compliance. These costs are spread over fewer customers. Typically, cooperatives have 1-11 consumers per mile while investor-owned and municipal utilities average more than 35.

McInnes explained the efficiency of Tri-State’s coal generation fleet, the association’s significant investments in renewables and energy efficiency, and the challenges of operating across five states with varying responses to the stay of the Clean Power Plan.

Following the attention received by an article in Cornerstone Magazine by Barbara Walz, Tri-State senior vice president Policy & Compliance and chief compliance officer, McInnes was invited to testify before the committee. The article outlined the unique challenges cooperatives face with the Clean Power Plan as they work to deliver affordable electricity to members in rural communities.

Read McInnes’ testimony or watch the archived webcast of the hearing.

Tri-State G&T presents public comments about coal leases on federal lands

Reclaimed land at ColoWyo Mine in Craig, Colorado.

Reclaimed land at ColoWyo Mine in Craig, Colorado.

Today in Casper, Wyoming, Tri-State participated at a public comments meeting conducted by the Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the Department of the Interior (DOI), regarding the processing and issuing of coal leases on federal lands.

The DOI placed a moratorium on coal leases in January that will last until the agency completes a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The purpose of the PEIS is “to identify and evaluate potential reforms to ensure the program is properly structured to provide a fair return to the taxpayers and reflect its impacts on the environment, while continuing to help meet the nation’s energy needs.”

Our Senior Environmental Policy Analyst Douglas Lempke submitted the following comments during today’s meeting:

Statement of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Scoping Meetings on Preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Federal Coal Leasing Program
Casper, Wyoming
May 17, 2016

Good Morning, my name is Doug Lempke and I am here to represent the views of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State).

Tri-State is a consumer-owned, not-for-profit, wholesale electric power supplier owned by 44 electric cooperatives that serve approximately 1.5 million consumers – primarily in the rural areas of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

We own and operate the Colowyo Mine, which has long-term federal coal leases with the BLM. The Colowyo Mine generates millions in federal royalties, with approximately half of these royalty revenues returned to the State of Colorado and local communities. Tri-State is also a participant in the Trapper Mine in Colorado and the Dry Fork Mine in Wyoming, which also have federal leases. And we receive coal for our Springerville, AZ facility from Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine and from Arch Coal’s Black Thunder mine.

The discussion regarding limiting access to federal coal and increasing royalty rates is nothing more than a continuing effort to artificially increase costs and discourage the use of affordable and reliable coal resources.

Increasing costs of federal coal will have a direct, adverse impact on our members and the communities they serve, but provide little actual benefit to the environment, since it will just shift coal development to other areas.

For not-for-profit cooperatives like Tri-State, any increase in fuel costs is directly borne by our members. And our member systems serve some of the most economically depressed communities in the region where residents can least afford to pay higher electric bills.

As BLM develops the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Federal Coal Program, Tri-State strongly encourages you to consider in all proposed alternatives:

– The impact on the cost of electricity,

– Federal, state and local government dependence on royalty payments,

– The true cost to mine federal coal, including state and federal royalty payments, all bonus bids, ad valorem property taxes, ad valorem production taxes, sales and use taxes, severance taxes and AML fees,,

– New ways to simplify reporting and administrative burdens for all parties involved,

– The long term benefits that coal mining can have for the environment, specifically the reinvigoration of wildlife habitats which may be in decline or of poor quality to start, and

– The provisions of the mineral leasing act that specifically identify and mandate the development of these resources for the benefit of the American public.

Tri-State encourages BLM to include alternatives in the PEIS that maximize federal coal use while maintaining the current royalty rate, or even better, proposing ways to reduce it.

Some have argued that the “Royalty Rate” is too low to provide Americans with the appropriate return on its development, but when you add in bonus bids, severance taxes and other fees and taxes, the economic analysis becomes much more favorable to development of federal coal resources.

The idea that access to federal coal should be significantly reduced – or even eliminated – would be disastrous and should not be considered as a reasonable alternative in the PEIS. Curtailment or elimination of federal coal will simply shift the emphasis to the use of private coal, eliminate any royalty payments and increase electricity costs.

As a nation, we can continue using federal coal in the future to keep electricity prices low while meeting national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the current administration has advocated for the reduction of coal generation, it has not suggested federal coal production be eliminated.  In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that under the Clean Power Plan coal will account for approximately 30 percent of the country’s electricity generation in 2030.

This future coal can come from federal reserves, where there is more environmental oversight and provides significant revenue to American taxpayers, states and local communities or it can come from other sources without these benefits.

BLM releases draft EA on Montrose-Nucla-Cahone Transmission Project

– Rebuild of 80-Mile Line Will Support Regional Growth, Boost Grid Reliability

– Tri-State’s Preferred Alternative Would Promote Safety, Minimize Impacts on Grouse Habitat

 telecomchopper250WESTMINSTER, Colo. – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., a wholesale power supplier owned by 44 member electric cooperatives and public power districts, said today that it is encouraging the public to review a recently-released federal environmental analysis of the proposed Montrose-Nucla-Cahone (MNC) Transmission Upgrade Project. The company is also urging interested stakeholders to take advantage of a 30-day public comment period by expressing support for the utility’s preferred alternative for rebuilding the transmission line.

 Tri-State is proposing to rebuild and increase the capacity of the 80-mile MNC line that serves communities across southwestern Colorado, not only to replace aging infrastructure and increase grid reliability, but also to help meet new electricity demand. The existing 115 kilovolt (kV) line, in place for almost 60 years, will be replaced by a new 230 kV line and supported by a new substation and upgrades at two existing substations. The project will also replace fiber optic cable that is located on the existing line to ensure continued reliable emergency communications and broadband service for the region.

According to Tri-State Senior Vice President of Transmission Joel Bladow, the new line will benefit Tri-State’s members and the communities they serve. “Tri-State studied multiple ways to address the aging infrastructure, improve reliability and meet significant new demand in the region, and we determined that the MNC project was the best option,” said Bladow. “The upgraded line will help us meet the needs of our members for years to come.”

Because the existing line crosses lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the MNC project requires the completion of an Environmental Assessment (EA).

On Nov. 3, the BLM released a draft EA, triggering a 30-day public comment period (running through Dec. 3) that provides opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed alternatives and project benefits.

The draft EA identifies three construction alternatives. Under “Alternative A,” Tri-State’s preferred option, the utility would rebuild the line largely within the existing transmission line corridor – with the exception of diverting the current crossing of the Dolores River in western Dolores County to a new location approximately one mile downstream. The re-route is proposed to address safety, access and erosion concerns.

Bladow explained that the new crossing point would be more accessible, making it safer for construction and maintenance workers. “Safety is a top priority at Tri-State, but the existing span across the Dolores River creates real challenges for our maintenance staff. The northern takeoff point is located on steep, narrow, rocky terrain that is extremely difficult to access with vehicles and equipment for needed maintenance,” he said. “We are hopeful the BLM, Forest Service and other stakeholders will recognize that our proposed alternative offers a safer and more desirable location and will reduce erosion concerns by removing the current alignment from highly erosive soils.”

The other alternatives in the draft EA involve taking no action at all to improve the existing line – which would lead to further deterioration of the critical infrastructure, increase risk for electrical outages and threaten future service capacity – and diverting the existing corridor to accommodate a remnant population of Gunnison sage-grouse in the Dry Creek Basin in central San Miguel County. The BLM has proposed relocating 7.6 miles of line from its current route through the basin to a new alignment located along State Highway 141; the relocation would create an additional 1.3 miles of disturbance through Gunnison sage-grouse critical habitat.

As part of the 30-day public comment period on the draft EA, the BLM will host a public open house on Nov. 16 at Dove Creek High School in Dove Creek, Colo., from 5 to 7 p.m. Information is also available at the BLM’s project Web page: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/district_offices/southwest/TriState230kVRebuild.html.

In addition, Tri-State has established a website at www.MNCRebuild.com to provide updated information on the project and to facilitate the submission of comments to the BLM.

 About Tri-State

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a wholesale power supplier, operating on a not-for-profit basis, to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. In 2015, Tri-State was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as Wind Cooperative of the Year.

 Media Contact:

Drew Kramer

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association

O: (303) 254-3086

C: (303) 681-1341

E: Akramer@TriStateGT.org

 

Public updated on Tri-State’s resource plan

Mike Stortz, P.E., long range load forecasting manager, discussed the 2014 load and demand forecast.

Mike Stortz, P.E., long range load forecasting manager, discussed the 2014 load and demand forecast.

Tri-State staff members held their 2014 Electric Resource Planning Public Input Meeting on Friday, Aug. 8 at the association’s Hub Thompson Conference Center in Westminster.

Tri-State participates in a resource planning process, which includes a plan filed every four years beginning in 2010, with updates made to the plan each year. The planning process involves projecting future needs, assessing the existing assets available to meet those needs and identifying any resource gap so that Tri-State can continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity.

Planning for resources involves developing and assessing alternative scenarios based on a range of growth rates, resource costs, capital costs, types of generation resources, energy efficiency programs, levels of emissions, water usage and other considerations. The various alternative resource plans are compared on the basis of cost, environmental characteristics and other factors. Continue reading ‘Public updated on Tri-State’s resource plan’

Otero County’s annual meeting gets ‘Power’-ed up

Power-on-stageCelebrating their 75th annual meeting, Otero County Electric invited its membership to join them at Cloudcroft high school in Cloudcroft, N.M. this past Saturday, August 2.  The meeting was attended by over 400 member-owners with the board and staff presenting reports on the financial status of the co-op and a video featuring members reminiscing when the lights first came on at their homes and ranches.

Jennifer Goss, senior vice president, member relations, presented on the association’s status, and its recent implementation of the relationship manager program.  Kevin Groenewold, executive vice president and general manager of the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Assn. also spoke on local and national legislative issues.

Power meets his heroes LED Lucy and CFL Charlie.

Power meets his heroes LED Lucy and CFL Charlie.

Making an appearance during registration and performing a skit with Jon Beyer, member relations manager, Power shook hands and bumped fists with Otero County member-owners while passing along the message about the work that power does in people’s everyday lives.  Power also met NRECA mascots, LED Lucy and CFL Charlie, and the local troop of Boy Scouts who were helping logistically with the annual meeting.

Craig Station employees celebrate 1 million work-hours without a lost-workday injury

Barry Ingold (left), senior vice president of production, presents a plaque commemorating 1 million hours without a lost-day injury to Craig Station’s Jim Nicoletto (center) and Paul Perez.

Barry Ingold (left), senior vice president of production, presents a plaque commemorating 1 million hours without a lost-day injury to Craig Station’s Jim Nicoletto (center) and Paul Perez.

Credit Tri-State’s 300 Craig Station employees with the hard work, focus and tenacity that it took to reach an unprecedented safety milestone of having worked for more than 1 million hours without a lost workday injury at the association’s largest (1,303-megawatt) generating facility.

Plant employees were honored for their accomplishment earlier this week (July 15) with a visit and presentations by executive vice president and general manager, Mike McInnes and Barry Ingold, newly appointed senior vice president of production.

Ingold presented a plaque recognizing this achievement to Paul Perez, lab technician and union safety steward for Craig Station and Jim Nicoletto, machinist mechanic and chief steward for the local chapter of the IBEW. Continue reading ‘Craig Station employees celebrate 1 million work-hours without a lost-workday injury’

Tri-State among Wyoming conservation award sponsors

Pat and Sharon O’Toole were honored by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Tri-State and others for their environmental stewardship on their 130-year-old cattle and sheep ranch in southern Wyoming.

Pat and Sharon O’Toole were honored by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association,
Tri-State and others for their environmental stewardship on their 130-year-old cattle and sheep ranch in southern Wyoming.

Tri-State is proud to be a sponsor of the coveted 2014 Leopold Conservation Awards that were given to ranchers and farmers in the states of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming who demonstrated extraordinary achievement in environmental stewardship of their land. On July 10, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead proclaimed that date as Wyoming Environmental Stewardship Day in honor of the O’Toole family’s Ladder Ranch located in southern Wyoming.

The Environmental Stewardship Tour and celebration, held July 10, at the Ladder Ranch attracted nearly 100 government officials, legislators, sponsors, fellow ranchers and friends. The ranch visitors were treated to an all-day agenda of presentations, ranch tours, lunch, dinner and evening entertainment on this 1,600-acre scenic property located near the confluence of the Little Snake River and Battle Creek.

The Ladder Ranch, which is electrically served by Tri-State member Carbon Power & Light (Saratoga, Wyo.), has been in the Salisbury/O’Toole family since the 1880s. Continue reading ‘Tri-State among Wyoming conservation award sponsors’

Power visits the Colorado Energy Expo

 

Power uses the hand-crank display in Tri-State’s booth at the Colorado Energy Expo

Power uses the hand-crank display in Tri-State’s booth at the Colorado Energy Expo

Power arrived at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Friday morning, June 27 as part of the Colorado Energy Expo.  Tri-State G&T exhibited with a 20’ x 20’ booth where Power made appearances throughout the day. The event was free and open to those in the electric industry as well as to the public. Hundreds of consultants, engineers and friends of the energy industry visited Tri-State’s  booth to learn more about Tri-State’s services, pose for pictures with Power and experience the exhibits about electricity.

Within Tri-State’s booth, Poudre Valley REA demonstrated electric safety on a table-top display, creating an arc of electricity, which drew the attention of passers-by.  Tri-State’s self-generation-hand crank display provided a “hands-on” exhibit that demonstrated the amount of power it takes to light a CFL bulb versus a standard incandescent bulb. Continue reading ‘Power visits the Colorado Energy Expo’

Annual Tri-State-hosted energy conference for educators wraps up

Richard Rhoads and other plant personnel at J.M. Shafer Station recently welcomed educators for a plant tour.

Richard Rhoads and other plant personnel at J.M. Shafer Station recently welcomed educators for a plant tour.

School is finally out  for nearly 50 educators from across Tri-State’s four-state member service territory. They signed up to participate in the third annual three-day NEED (National Energy Education Development) conference held last week (June 25-27) at headquarters.

It is hosted and sponsored by the association and its member systems. Vernon Kimball, a retired school teacher and NEED instructor, conducted most of this year’s program along with plenty of support and guest appearances from Tri-State staff.

The primary goal of this conference is to promote energy industry knowledge among the educators in the hope that they will be more likely to include this topic in their classroom curriculums this fall. The lessons presented are S.T.E.M. certified, so they comply with education standards. Continue reading ‘Annual Tri-State-hosted energy conference for educators wraps up’

Second graders talk sustainability at Tri-State

Second-graders from a local school recently were guest presenters at HQ to talk about sustainability efforts at their school.

Second-graders from a local school recently were guest presenters at HQ to talk about sustainability efforts at their school.

If you think that American kids in our schools today don’t have much interest in weighty issues like sustainability, preserving our natural resources and saving energy, then you should pay a visit to Northglenn, Colo.’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Magnet Lab School, where kindergarten through eighth-grade students are gaining practical experience in dealing with “real world” problems.

Recently (May 15), the school’s approximately 50 second-graders were invited to hone their presentation skills before a volunteer panel of Tri-Staters in Westminster’s Hub Thompson conference center.

The event was organized in large part by Brenda Patricolo, a Tri-State projects accountant and mother of two students attending the STEM school. Patricolo, whose daughter, Brooklyn, was among the second-grade presenters, said that each of the kids gave about a five-minute presentation on some of the many aspects of renewable energy use and sustainability.  Continue reading ‘Second graders talk sustainability at Tri-State’

United Power marks 75 years of delivering consumer-owned power

United Power’s Troy Whitmore and Heidi Storz provided a historical presentation at the co-op’s 75th anniversary annual meeting before a group of approximately 700 guests on April 16, at the Adams County Fairground’s Waymire Dome.

United Power’s Troy Whitmore and Heidi Storz provided a historical presentation at the co-op’s 75th anniversary annual meeting before a group of approximately 700 guests on April 16, at the Adams County Fairground’s Waymire Dome.

From its humble beginnings in 1938 when it was first formed under the name Union Rural Electric Association to serve the farms and ranches of Colorado’s northern Front Range, Brighton, Colo.-based United Power has grown to become the state’s second largest (in terms of consumers served) electric co-op in the state with nearly 72,000 member-consumers on its distribution lines.

United Power recently (April 16) celebrated its “Powerful Past and Bright Future” at its 75th annual meeting and anniversary celebration held at the Adams County Fairgrounds. The event attracted nearly 1,000 guests, who were treated to a barbecue dinner, as well as the opportunity to visit informational exhibit booths and enjoy an evening of live entertainment provided by guitarist Dave Connelly. Continue reading ‘United Power marks 75 years of delivering consumer-owned power’

Western Fuels – Colorado mines take top honors for safety, reclamation and innovation

Employees of both the New Horizon and the Colowyo mines can be especially proud of their operations, which received multiple awards and honors last week (April 15-17) at the Colorado Mining Association’s 116th National Western Mining Conference & Exhibition held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Both mines are owned and operated by Western Fuels-Colorado, a subsidiary company owned by Tri-State.

New Horizon Mine, which supplies Tri-State’s Nucla Station, was honored for safety, reclamation and environmental practices.

New Horizon Mine, which supplies Tri-State’s Nucla Station, was honored for safety, reclamation and environmental practices.

The National Western Mining Conference attracted nearly 1,000 attendees from throughout the mining industry and 110 exhibitors, including the ‘Keep Electricity Affordable’ campaign booth. The three-day mining event featured industry experts providing their views on the many challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

At the conference, Lee Boughey, senior manager of communications and public affairs, provided a presentation on Tri-State, its subsidiary mining operations and the importance of coal in Tri-State’s energy mix in assuring that the G&T continues to provide affordable power to its member systems.

Both Tri-State and Western Fuels-Colorado served as premiere sponsors of this year’s mining conference. Continue reading ‘Western Fuels – Colorado mines take top honors for safety, reclamation and innovation’

Employee brings “Tri-State 101” to classroom

Some of Tri-State’s employees are tasked with educating students, educators and other groups on the many benefits that affordable, consumer-owned electric power provides in the daily lives of the millions of Americans. This effort is part of a multi-faceted Tri-State program to promote our industry and support the leaders of tomorrow.

Tri-State’s Jonathan Thornton recently visited with about 200 middle school kids at the Denver School of Science and Technology.

Tri-State’s Jonathan Thornton recently visited with about 200 middle school kids at the Denver School of Science and Technology.

With that youth education goal in mind, Jonathan Thornton, strategic communications specialist, recently (March 26) visited Denver’s Middle School of Science and Technology to give a brief presentation on the association for a “careers in energy” program organized by the school. Thornton was joined by several other energy industry presenters on the program.

The Tri-State presenter kept his young audience engaged during his 15-minute slide show and talk with plenty of back-and-forth questions and answers about how electricity is used in our everyday lives, where it originates and how Tri-State’s role as wholesale power supplier to electric cooperatives fits into overall power supply picture. Continue reading ‘Employee brings “Tri-State 101” to classroom’

Tri-State board officers elected following 2014 annual meeting

Annual-meeting-crowdApproximately 400 electric cooperative representatives and industry officials attended Tri-State’s 62nd annual meeting April 2-3, in Broomfield, Colo., where they reviewed the wholesale power supplier’s performance and accomplishments, and addressed the numerous challenges and opportunities facing the electric utility industry.

At the meeting, the association’s board of directors was seated for the upcoming year, including the six officers and three at-large positions that make up the board’s Executive Committee. Under the cooperative business model, Tri-State’s board is made up of one representative from each of its member systems, serving as the democratically-elected governing body of the association.

Chairman of the board, Rick Gordon

Chairman of the board, Rick Gordon

Rick Gordon, representing Tri-State member co-op Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.), was re-elected chairman for a fifth consecutive term. Gordon originally joined Tri-State’s board in 1994 and served as vice chairman for 13 years prior to first being elected chairman in 2010. He has served on Mountain View’s board since 1992. Continue reading ‘Tri-State board officers elected following 2014 annual meeting’

New substation brings improved service to Laguna Pueblo tribe in N.M.

Siting, securing the land rights, constructing and finally commissioning a new substation can sometimes be an arduous and, at times, even a contentious process. But, thankfully, that was not the case when Tri-State, member Continental Divide Electric Cooperative (Grants, N.M.) and the Laguna Pueblo Tribal Council worked together to improve electric service on their reservation.

Continental Divide’s board president, Keith Gottlieb (left) greets Richard Luarkie, Governor of Pueblo of Laguna tribal council at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new substation.

Continental Divide’s board president, Keith Gottlieb (left) greets Richard Luarkie, Governor of Pueblo of Laguna tribal council at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new substation.

The culmination of that cooperative spirit and hard work was celebrated recently (March 21) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the brand new Old Laguna Substation serving the nearby Native American village of Laguna, N.M.

The substation ceremony was hosted by Continental Divide Electric and attended by a crowd of about  50 people, including the Governor of the Pueblo and members of Laguna’s tribal council, Continental Divide’s general manager, board members and staff, Tri-State employees directly involved in the project and others who played a role in adding the new substation to the power supply system. Continue reading ‘New substation brings improved service to Laguna Pueblo tribe in N.M.’

Tri-State continues to support classroom education programs

Tri-State has a longstanding reputation and strong commitment in its support of youth education programs aimed at empowering the leaders of tomorrow, as well as telling our story of the value that consumer-owned power brings to farms, ranches, businesses and communities served by the association’s 44 member systems.

Many of the association’s youth education programs are spearheaded by Gigi Dennis, senior manager of external affairs.

This interesting and educational “Colorado Kids” reader on hydropower appeared recently in the Denver Post. It was produced with the help of Tri-State.

This interesting and educational “Colorado Kids” reader on hydropower appeared recently in the Denver Post. It was produced with the help of Tri-State.

One such program series that has proved to be very successful is conducted through Tri-State’s alliance with the non-profit Agriculture in the Classroom organizations. They help help roll out free classroom readers and teacher study guide materials, as well as fun and educational Web site content for elementary school students living in communities in all four states of the Tri-State member service territory. Continue reading ‘Tri-State continues to support classroom education programs’

Bureau of Land Management releases draft EIS for Tri-State transmission line planned for northern San Juan Basin

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance have recently made available for review and public comment the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 65-mile, 230-kilovolt San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project to be constructed by Tri-State between northwest New Mexico and Ignacio, Colo.

The proposed San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project is expected to be under construction by late 2016.

The proposed San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project is expected to be under construction by late 2016.

The project also includes the expansion of Tri-State’s existing Iron Horse Substation, additions at The Western Area Power Administration’s Shiprock Substation and the construction of two new substations, Kiffen Canyon and Three Rivers, both in New Mexico.

The BLM will host two public meetings during the 45-day draft EIS public comment period on April 8 in Ignacio, Colo., and April 9 in Farmington, N.M.

The new line is needed to alleviate the strain that increasing electric load growth in the San Juan Basin areas of Colorado and New Mexico have caused on the region’s existing electrical system.

Among the project’s objectives are to improve electric system reliability, provide additional electric system capacity to support Tri-State member La Plata Electric Association’s (LPEA) requested capacity, as well as directly improving the load serving capability of the electric systems serving members LPEA, Empire Electric Association and San Miguel Power Association. Continue reading ‘Bureau of Land Management releases draft EIS for Tri-State transmission line planned for northern San Juan Basin’

NRECA’s 72nd annual meeting is this week in “Music City”

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson discusses the strength of the “co-op nation” during the opening general session of the 2014 NRECA annual meeting.

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson discusses the strength of the “co-op nation” during the opening general session of the 2014 NRECA annual meeting.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)’s 2014 Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage® Expo are taking place now through March 6 at the new Music City Center in downtown Nashville.   Tri-State is a member of NRECA, which is a national service organization based in Arlington, Va., founded in 1942 to compile and disseminate rural electric information and to represent the national interests of cooperative electric utilities.

This year’s event, themed “Co-op Nation: Strong and Proud” includes a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour and on Monday Jo Ann Emerson delivered her initial address as CEO to the rural electric Annual Meeting audience.

Attendees will also take in a performance by country music star Martina McBride and a closing keynote speech by acclaimed broadcast journalists Jane Pauley. “Her message of inspiration and possibilities truly reflects the spirit of Co-op Nation,” said Emerson.

More than one hundred volunteers helped build two energy efficient Habitat for Humanity homes in Fairview, TN as part of a community service project before the NRECA annual meeting.

More than one hundred volunteers helped build two energy efficient Habitat for Humanity homes in Fairview, TN as part of a community service project before the NRECA annual meeting.

The meeting kicked off Monday with a traditional community service project. More than 100 volunteers from Touchstone Energy electric cooperatives across the country helped build two energy-efficient Habitat for Humanity homes in Fairview, Tenn.

As always, the gathering will provide opportunities to network with co-op peers, learn from industry experts, and discuss critical resolutions that define the association’s mission. More than 8,500 electric co-op leaders are slated to attend, making the meeting the largest event to date in the Nashville Music Convention Center.

2014 membership annual meeting series kicks off in Wheatland

Wheatland REA’s annual meeting held on Feb. 26 in Wheatland, Wyo. marks the first of a long series of events held throughout the member service territory.

Wheatland REA’s annual meeting held on Feb. 26 in Wheatland, Wyo. marks the first of a long series of events held throughout the member service territory.

Wednesday (Feb. 26), marked the start of the 2014 series of Tri-State member annual meetings, beginning with Wheatland Rural Electric Association’s annual membership gathering held at the 4-H building in Wheatland, Wyo.  This event marked the first of 37 meetings that Tri-State’s member services group, along with senior management staff members, will attend in 2014.

Along with the annual meeting, the co-op’s agenda featured a health fair with blood testing, as well as informational packets to raise awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle for its members.

Tri-State’s member services booth showcased residential LED light bulbs and the rebates and incentives that Wheatland REA members can receive from the co-op and Tri-State for replacing inefficient and outdated incandescent bulbs with LED lights. Residential member rebates offer either a 50 percent or $10 rebate (whichever is less) on any LED bulb purchase for up to 50 bulbs per year. Continue reading ‘2014 membership annual meeting series kicks off in Wheatland’

2013 Pedal the Plains tours Colorado co-op country

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (behind podium) and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia (far left), joined by some Colorado FFA kids, kick off day one of the 2013 Pedal the Plains bicycle tour.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (behind podium) and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia (far left), joined by some Colorado FFA kids, kick off day one of the 2013 Pedal the Plains bicycle tour.

Approximately 750 cyclists participated in the second annual Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour this past weekend (Sept. 20-22), covering 174 miles across the sprawling plains of southeast Colorado.

The state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were well represented for the second year in a row, with a 12-member team saddling up for the three-day tour that kicked off and ended in the farming and ranching community of Eads – which is served by Tri-State member co-op Southeast Colorado Power Association (La Junta, Colo.).

“We were excited to have it – it brought a lot of people into our town, said Marilyn Baxter, mayor of Eads. “We hope they like what they saw.”

The route also included overnight stops in the towns of Lamar and La Junta, where the electric co-ops hosted one of many interactive and informational booths, coordinated by the Colorado Rural Electric Association. Riders were treated to live music in the three host communities, along with beer gardens, local food fare, games and contests. Continue reading ‘2013 Pedal the Plains tours Colorado co-op country’

United Power shows off Colorado’s largest co-op-sponsored solar site

Left to right: United Power CEO Ron Asche, Jerry Marizza, also with United, Everod and Claudia Samuel of Samuel Engineering, and United Power’s director of external affairs Troy Whitmore.

Left to right: United Power CEO Ron Asche, Jerry Marizza, also with United, Everod and Claudia Samuel of Samuel Engineering, and United Power’s director of external affairs Troy Whitmore.

Tri-State member system United Power (Brighton, Colo.) hosted an open house at its 2.28-megawatt Hanger 160 Solar Project yesterday (July 22) in rural Adams County, about 20 miles north of Denver.

Although the 10-acre, photovoltaic (PV) solar array has been generating renewable energy for the co-op’s 70,000 member-consumers for more than three months, this was the first opportunity for the co-op’s staff to invite its members, directors and other local officials to have a first-hand look at what is being called the largest PV solar system in Colorado that is directly tied to a distribution network.

United’s staff provided visitors with breakfast and guided tours during the morning event.

“The Hanger 160 Solar Project is a great example of one of the ways that we are demonstrating renewable and other alternative energy solutions to our membership,” said Troy Whitmore, director of external affairs for the co-op. United Power is also the first and only Tri-State member co-op to purchase up to 3.2 megawatts of generation fueled from landfill gas — collected at the Erie Landfill site in northern Colorado.

Tri-State supports the development of local renewable energy projects by its member systems with financial incentives and assistance, as approved by the association’s board of directors.

Continue reading ‘United Power shows off Colorado’s largest co-op-sponsored solar site’

Niobrara Electric helps create its local world-famous pageant

rawhide03In keeping with a long-standing tradition, Tri-State member Niobrara Electric Association will once again lend its support to the internationally famous Legend of Rawhide pageant in Lusk, Wyo., on July 12 and 13.

The event, now more than 50 years old, is staged in the county rodeo arena. It involves the entire community and draws thousands of spectators every summer.

Hundreds of locals commit their time and resources to make the famous event possible, including Niobrara Electric. The co-op has helped set the stage in the days leading up to the event ever since its inception by ‘planting’ a forest of life-sized trees – some up to 70 feet tall.

Co-op employees also play character roles in the pageant which highlights the history, legend and Western heritage of Niobrara County, and have served on the ‘Legend’ board of directors for many years.

Tri-State honored for 30 years in Westminster

Approximately 30 years ago the association opened its operations center in Westminster. On June 24, members of Westminster’s City Council marked that occasion by recognizing Tri-State and a number of other longstanding local businesses with its 30-year Business Legacy Awards.

A total of 17 businesses were recognized for 30 years of operation in Westminster. Lee Boughey (second from right) accepted the award for Tri-State.

A total of 17 businesses were recognized for 30 years of operation in Westminster. Lee Boughey (second from right) accepted the award for Tri-State.

Lee Boughey, senior manager of enterprise communications and public affairs, attended the event and accepted the award on behalf of Tri-State.

The award celebrates Westminster businesses that have stood the test of time, provide stable employment and add to the quality of life in the community.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, one-third of new businesses fail within the first two years of opening. In Westminster, some 30 new businesses open each month.

To date, the longest term business license in the city is held by Adams County School District 50, having been in operation for 67 years.

According to the human resources department, approximately 550 employees work at Tri-State’s Westminster headquarters complex, which was added to the operations center site in 1997. Prior to that time, Tri-State was headquartered about two miles away in Thornton.

End-use survey tracks increased AC use, greater natural gas availability

water-heaterAccording to the latest end-use consumer survey compiled by Tri-State — using data collected by 42 of the G&T’s 44 member systems – 37 percent of electric cooperative member-consumers who responded to the questionnaire are retirees, confirming a trend of increasing older population remaining in rural areas served by the association’s member co-ops.

Findings from the Tri-State/Member 2012 Residential End-Use Survey were reported by Brad Nebergall, senior vice president of energy management, to Tri-State’s directors at the monthly board meeting held May 8 in Westminster. The survey is required every five years by borrowers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which includes Tri-State and most of its members.

Nebergall explained that in addition to meeting the RUS requirement, the survey serves as a useful tool in planning demand-side management and products and services programs.

In the most recent survey, nearly 36 percent of the respondents rely on natural gas for water heating, compared to 28 percent using electricity and 26 percent utilizing propane to heat their water. Similarly, primary home heating fuel was comprised of 33 percent natural gas, followed by propane at 23 percent and 18 percent of consumers who use electricity to heat their homes. Continue reading ‘End-use survey tracks increased AC use, greater natural gas availability’

Local math class takes a field trip to Craig Station

Algebra-Class-tours-Craig-station_07Students from Moffat County High School’s algebra class visited Craig Station last week for a tour and presentations involving many plant employees including coal handling superintendent Tim Osborn, mechanical engineer Rick Carson, electrical engineer Brandon Haddock, plant manager Rick Johnson (pictured) and maintenance superintendent Bill Johnston.

The goal of the visit was to show the importance of math and science studies and how they are useful in future careers including work at a power plant. Tri-State provided a pizza lunch for the group.

Tri-State and its member co-ops oppose misguided legislation

On April 3, a bill was introduced in the Colorado Senate aimed at Tri-State and its member co-ops which would require Tri-State to generate 25 percent of the power it sells to its Colorado members from renewable resources by 2020.

CO_State_capitolThe measure would essentially replace the current renewable energy obligation of 10 percent by 2020, which was passed in the Colorado Legislature with support by Tri-State in 2007 – and which the association is on track to meet.

If enacted as written, the proposed legislation could potentially cost Tri-State and its members up to $4 billion over the next 20 years, which is one of several reasons Tri-State and the Colorado Rural Electric Association have engaged resources to oppose it.

“Fundamentally, the manner in which this bill was hastily written and introduced represents a flawed process,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson. “Despite our willingness to do so, we, nor any other rural Colorado constituents who will be deeply impacted by this mandate, were not provided the opportunity to provide any input. It is irresponsible – not to mention probably unachievable – and could cost Colorado electric cooperatives and their member-owners billions of dollars.”

After a Senate committee’s initial hearing on April 8, which involved seven hours of testimony, the bill passed by a 3-2 vote along party lines.

“We are receiving significant support from both rural and urban interests, from the state chamber of commerce to agricultural producers to our labor unions.  Together we are sending a strong message to legislators and the governor to do the right thing by rural Colorado,” said Dave Lock, Tri-State’s senior manager of government relations.

Part of that pressure includes Tri-State’s communications and public affairs team working, with strong support from its members and partner organizations, to help spread the message in an effort to raise public awareness and action. As a result of those activities, The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Pueblo Chieftain have all quickly weighed in with strongly worded editorials opposing the bill.

The bill is currently on the Senate floor for debate. If it passes the Senate, it would transfer to the Colorado House of Representatives, where it again would receive a committee hearing, then be debated on the House floor. If the bill gets that far and passes the House, it would go to Gov. Hickenlooper for his signature; or, he could veto it. The process is expected to take at least two weeks, perhaps longer. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 9.

The Rural Economic Action Alliance (REA-A), which is supported by Tri-State and CREA, is currently running Keep Electricity Affordable radio commercials and online ads across Colorado, along with activating its 20,000 plus grassroots supporters. Electric cooperative advocates are encouraged to support the Keep Electricity Affordable initiative as well as using CREA’s Take Action Network.

Tri-State officers elected following 2013 annual meeting

2013-Annual-Meeting_14Approximately 400 electric cooperative representatives and industry officials attended Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s 61st annual meeting April 3-4 in Broomfield, Colo., where they reviewed recent activities and accomplishments, while addressing numerous issues and challenges facing the electric utility industry.

Following the meeting, the association’s board of directors was seated for the upcoming year, including the six officers and three at-large positions that make up the board’s Executive Committee.  Under the cooperative business model, Tri-State’s board is made up of one representative from each of its member systems, serving as the democratically-elected governing body of the association.

Rick Gordon, representing Tri-State member co-op Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.), was re-elected chairman for a fourth consecutive term.  Gordon originally joined Tri-State’s board in 1994 and served as vice chairman for 13 years prior to first being elected chairman in 2010.  He has served on his MVEA’s board since 1992.

Tony Casados, representing Northern Rio Arriba Electric Cooperative (Chama, N.M.), also was re-elected vice chairman for a fourth term, after having served as an assistant secretary for nine years previous.  Casados has served on his local co-op’s board since 1982 and has been on the Tri-State board since 2000. Continue reading ‘Tri-State officers elected following 2013 annual meeting’

Long-awaited completion of Nucla-Sunshine transmission line is celebrated

Kevin Ritter, San Miguel Power Association general manager, spoke to the collaborative effort of all parties involved in bringing the Nucla-Sunshine line to fruition.

Kevin Ritter, San Miguel Power Association general manager, spoke to the collaborative effort of all parties involved in bringing the Nucla-Sunshine line to fruition.

A transmission line that takes three years to construct and nearly five times that long to conceive, debate, plan and engineer certainly deserves to be celebrated when it is finally electrified into service. Such was the occasion for a March 26 reception in Mountain Village, Colo., recognizing the completion this past November of the 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine project.

The critical line provides an improved level of service and reliability to the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and other nearby communities in the southwestern Colorado service territory of Tri-State member co-op San Miguel Power Association.

“I remember hearing about a new power line when my son was born – and that was 15 years ago,” said an only half-joking San Miguel county commissioner Joan May, who joined other local elected officials and representatives from SMPA and Tri-State at the afternoon event at Mountain Village Town Hall.

Telluride mayor Stu Fraser noted the urgency for a more reliable redundant power source that grew out of a 2004 avalanche that wiped out the area’s primary 115-kv line. “We said at the time that we can’t let this happen again,” Fraser said, who estimated that the outage caused by that avalanche cost his resort town approximately $250,000 in lost revenue.

The 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine transmission line was built over the past three years and energized this past November.

The 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine transmission line was built over the past three years and energized this past November.

Tri-State vice president/transmission Joel Bladow spoke to the “difficult technical challenges” involved with planning and constructing the line, while SMPA general manager Kevin Ritter discussed the critical collaboration that took place among the utilities, local government jurisdictions and various stakeholders. Other speakers at the reception included Mountain Village mayor Dan Jansen and San Miguel board president Rube Felicelli.

The line is unique to Tri-State’s transmission system in that approximately 10 miles of the power cable was placed underground to satisfy landowners’ concerns. Those concerns and other siting issues delayed the construction of the project for more than a decade.

Tri-State hosts InfraGard meeting in collaboration with the FBI

Infra-Gard-01Last week, Tri-State had the distinction of hosting the quarterly meeting of the InfraGard Denver Members Alliance. InfraGard is a collaborative effort between the FBI and critical infrastructure private sector subject matter experts in the fields of cyber and physical security.

Kevin Smith, Tri-State’s enterprise security specialist, serves as the energy sector chief of the Denver InfraGard chapter and Allan Wick, enterprise security manager, serves on the board of directors.

Donna Baptiste of Colorado Springs Utilities spoke to InfraGard members about last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire.

Donna Baptiste of Colorado Springs Utilities spoke to InfraGard members about last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire.

“InfraGard is a unique opportunity for those protecting our nation’s critical infrastructures to network with colleagues in interdependent sectors and to work closely with the FBI to deter threats against the industries we represent,” Wick said.

The theme of the chapter’s meeting was “Natural Hazards and Continuity of Operations,” which focused on the unique challenges that Colorado experiences when responding to and recovering from natural disasters such as tornadoes, winter storms, severe winds and wildfires. Presenters and participants discussed lessons learned from past disasters, preparedness plans and alternative approaches.

Approximately 100 members attended the event, which was strongly supported by Tri-State. Speakers included experts from the utilities sector, the National Weather Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Meeting attendees heard about lessons learned from past disasters, preparedness plans and alternative approaches to dealing with crises.

Meeting attendees heard about lessons learned from past disasters, preparedness plans and alternative approaches to dealing with crises.

More than 1,600 local chapter members of the InfraGard Members Alliance have the opportunity to join with fellow private sector subject matter experts to discuss issues, concerns and threats that impact the nation’s critical infrastructure security, as well as their business interests on a local level.

Each of the 86 chapters across the U.S. is co-located with an FBI field office and is represented by both a private sector chapter president and an FBI special agent coordinator.

High West Energy wins decades-long battle

High West’s service territory consists of 3,500 miles of line and more than 9,000 meters in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

High West’s service territory consists of 3,500 miles of line and more than 9,000 meters in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

After a 30-year struggle, Tri-State member system High West Energy (Pine Bluffs, Wyo.) finally achieved a huge victory last week in reaching a franchise agreement with the city of Cheyenne to provide electricity to some consumers who reside within city limits.The Wyoming Public Service Commission approved a settlement between the electric cooperative and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power that clarifies the locations where each utility will provide service.

“We won — and could not have done it without Tri-State and Basin Electric’s moral and financial support, not to mention the expertise and advice along the way,” said Brian Heithoff, general manager of High West Energy.

Under the agreement, Cheyenne Light gained some areas of rural eastern Laramie County, but High West will continue to serve its current members, even if they are eventually annexed to the city of Cheyenne.

Approval of the agreement came after a full-day hearing and received overwhelming support from the Cheyenne City Council. It means that the utilities will never challenge their service areas.

“This will allow for the leaders of both utilities to better plan, knowing that our locations are permanent,” Heithoff said.

This marks the first time the city of Cheyenne has had a franchise agreement with a company other than Cheyenne Light.