LPEA files complaint with Colorado Public Utilities Commission LPEA seeks reasonable exit charge from Tri-State to weigh future options


By Lonnie Tucker

Special to The SUN

La Plata Electric Association Inc. (LPEA) filed a complaint Tuesday with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) asking the PUC to determine a just and reasonable exit charge to allow LPEA to potentially withdraw from membership in Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc.

LPEA asked Tri-State for an exit charge over four months ago, but Tri-State has yet to respond to that request. Instead, Tri-State has unilaterally declared a moratorium on any exit charge discussions with any of its members, including LPEA. At the same time, Tri-State continues efforts to become Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rate jurisdictional, which Tri-State claims will circumvent the PUC of its authority under Colorado law to determine exit charges for Tri-State members.

“We have run out of options to obtain a fair exit charge from Tri-State,” said Jessica Matlock, LPEA CEO. “Particularly in light of Tri-State’s exit charge moratorium, combined with its efforts to circumvent PUC jurisdiction over exit charges, we needed to act now. It is our responsibility to LPEA members to examine all future power supply options. We cannot adequately do this unless we have been provided an exit charge that would allow us to potentially withdraw from Tri-State on terms that are fair — both to LPEA and its members, and to Tri-State’s remaining members.”

Bob Lynch, LPEA board president, said, “It is important as a board that we work hard to keep all of our power supply options open so that our members have the most affordable, reliable and cleanest power possible. This complaint helps ensure that LPEA will have the best options to choose from in the future.”

In 2019, LPEA celebrated 80 years providing safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost to approximately 34,000 members, located in the counties of La Plata, Archuleta, and segments of Hinsdale, Mineral and San Juan. LPEA also recently adopted the strategic goal of significantly reducing LPEA’s carbon footprint by the year 2030 while keeping its members’ cost of electricity low.

“We need to take proactive steps to position ourselves to meet these goals,” Matlock added.