As a member owner/rate payer of Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), I am very concerned about DMEA's upcoming vote to change its Articles of Incorporation in an effort to buy out of its contract with its wholesale electric power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. In my opinion, DMEA has been oversimplifying a very complex issue in the press and social media. Here are a few facts relating to what DMEA has been communicating:
• Tri-State is not a distant Front Range company that doesn't understand our needs. Tri-State has provided a vital service to rural Colorado, including Montrose County, for many years, and employs more than 40 people in Montrose.
• Tri-State's board of directors is comprised of one director from each of its 43 member electric cooperatives (including DMEA). To ensure each cooperative covers its share of the costs, the Tri-State members approved a policy to limit their own self-supply of renewable and distributed energy to 5 percent of their total energy requirements. Tri-State isn't the unreasonable, inflexible organization DMEA wants you to believe it is. Tri-State is only implementing what its board decided in a democratic vote.
• Tri-State's wholesale rates have NOT increased from 2016-2018. In 2019, Tri-State's budget does NOT include a rate increase. Tri-State is forecasting stable rates in the years to come.
• Although current market prices for renewable energy are low, there is no guarantee they will remain low once the taxpayer-funded government subsidies expire. In addition, the market price for energy does not include the other costs required to deliver power to consumers. Tri-State's wholesale rate includes all costs associated with delivering power to its members regardless of the weather 24/7, 365 days per year, including transmission services. So trying to compare Tri-State's wholesale rates with the current prices of renewable and market power is NOT comparing apples to apples.
• Tri-State has renewable energy resources in its generation portfolio, and it is the top solar generation and transmission cooperative in the nation. Since 2008, 475 megawatts of generation has been added including wind, solar and hydropower. In 2017, 30 percent of the energy consumed by its members came from renewable resources. Tri-State is also soliciting for additional renewable energy supply.
I am a firm believer in the cooperative model which has a diverse membership and governance structure, plans for the long term, and focuses on delivering reliable and affordable power, rather than focusing on maximizing profit for investors. The cooperative model allows all of its membership to share the benefits when times are good and moderates the risks of economic downturns. I do not want to see our local member-owned cooperative become an investor-owned utility. For these reasons, I intend to vote NO when I receive DMEA's ballot to change its Articles of Incorporation.