DMEA seeks help against Tri-State rate move

By Hank Lohmeyer


DMEA has initiated a campaign, asking its members to join the opposition to a proposal by Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

But those who want to help DMEA must do so soon: the deadline is March 11.

The Tri-State proposal would impose an additional "rate tariff" or penalty on electricity DMEA purchases from local renewable energy producers.

According to Virginia Harman, DMEA's manager of member relations and human resources, Tri-State's petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for the tariff "would penalize DMEA or any other cooperative that interconnects with local renewable generation" -- projects known as qualifying facilities. DMEA's South Canal project would be considered a qualifying facility.

Harman states in her appeal, "DMEA is seeking local support through a letter writing campaign [to FERC] in opposition to Tri-State's petition. I hope that [DMEA's members and friends] will be able to support our efforts and perhaps help us find others who would be willing to support us as well."

Harman has provided the following list of "talking points" for use by those who wanting to support the campaign:

• What's the issue? Tri- State wants FERC to approve a rate penalty on utilities like DMEA when they buy energy from local renewable projects.

• What would this mean for Delta and Montrose counties? Tri-State's rate penalty would make purchases from renewable sources uneconomical. This threatens not just local renewable generation, but also the tremendous economic development that comes with it.

• Didn't FERC already say DMEA must buy from local renewable sources? Yes. In a 2015 ruling, FERC said that DMEA must buy from renewable generation projects under federal law. Tri-State's new request to FERC would essentially undo FERC's 2015 ruling.

• What specifically is Tri-State requesting? Tri-State agrees that DMEA [is required] to buy from renewable generation projects, but it wants to charge DMEA a penalty for revenue that Tri-State loses when DMEA buys energy from these projects instead of buying from Tri-State.

• What is DMEA's position on Tri-State's request? DMEA believes that FERC regulations prohibit these "lost revenue" penalties. If FERC approves Tri-State's penalty, it will stop any new renewable generation for DMEA members and will deprive our economy of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development.

• Can organizations or members of the public comment on Tri-State's request? Yes. DMEA encourages any person or organization wanting to communicate with FERC about Tri-State's request for a lost-revenue penalty to send a letter. Mail two copies of a paper letter to The Honorable Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20426.

On the subject line, please write "Re: Petition for Declaratory Order of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., Docket No. EL16-39-000."

Harman also asks that an emailed copy be sent to her at virginia.harman@

dmea.com.

Unique letters instead of form letters are most effective.

There are also more detailed instructions for submitting electronic letters. They are available from Harman at the above email and by calling 970-240-1262, or 406-229-0466.

Last year, a FERC ruling opened the door for DMEA to buy more locally generated renewable electric generation than its contract with Tri-State would otherwise allow. The FERC ruling is seen by DMEA and others as a key to economic development prospects in this area.