DMEA Opposes Effort to Limit Local Renewables
Yesterday DMEA learned that its wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, filed a legal action that threatens DMEA's efforts to bring renewable generation -- and the possibility of tremendous economic development -- to DMEA's service territory. Tri-State's February 17 filing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C., asks FERC to approve a rate penalty on utilities like DMEA when they purchase electricity from local renewable generation projects.
DMEA is obligated by a 1978 federal law called PURPA (the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act) to buy energy from local renewable generation facilities. In 2015, DMEA obtained a ruling from FERC that these renewable purchases were required -- not withstanding contrary provisions in DMEA's partial requirements power supply contract with Tri-State.
Tri-State's filing yesterday with FERC essentially seeks to undo this ruling. If successful, Tri-State's proposal would let it impose a "lost revenue recovery fee" when DMEA makes the required renewable energy purchases. "This 'lost revenue recovery fee' jeopardizes the viability of those local renewable generation projects that DMEA members have requested for years, and which would bolster our suffering local economy," said Bill Patterson, DMEA’s Board President. "DMEA will oppose the fee because we believe it violates federal law and is an attempt to make a one-sided change the DMEA/Tri-State contract."
Patterson remarked, "DMEA is a forward thinking member-owned cooperative. We believe that it is in the best interest of our members, our communities, and our local economy to obtain power from our own resource-rich backyard. Developing local renewable generation is a great opportunity for our communities to thrive as we move into the future. While we continue to work toward embracing the changes in our industry and toward improving our local economy, Tri-State's proposed fee will penalize us for our efforts."
DMEA will soon be asking its members and supporters in the broader community to submit letters to FERC opposing Tri-State's proposed "lost revenue recovery fee." The cooperative expects to have more information regarding FERC deadlines and letter submission procedures in the next week.
DMEA is a rural electric distribution cooperative, located in Montrose, Colorado. DMEA was originally founded in 1938, as Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association. A board of directors from nine districts covering three counties governs the cooperative. DMEA serves approximately 32,000 residential, commercial and industrial meters, on over 3,000 miles of cooperative owned distribution line.