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Think tank, more legislators join in supporting DMEA

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Last week the Coalition of Ratepayers, the energy policy affiliate of prominent Colorado free-market and libertarian think tank, the Independence Institute, declared their support for DMEA's complaint before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The coalition submitted a public comment to the PUC supporting DMEA's complaint against Tri-State Generation and Transmission. This letter cements the bi-partisan support for DMEA, coming the same week as an additional letter from 10 more Colorado legislators also supporting DMEA's efforts to secure a reasonable and non-discriminatory exit charge from Tri-State.

In its letter, the Coalition of Ratepayers urges the PUC to take up DMEA's complaint "in light of Tri-State's actions, which reject individual autonomy and self-determination, are prohibited by public utility law, and are discriminatory as well as a predatory." The public comment also notes that Tri-State's refusal to honor its "core principle" of voluntary membership "undermines and attacks not only DMEA's personal and economic freedom, but the personal and economic freedom of all the rural-electric cooperatives it serves."

"We appreciate the Coalition of Ratepayers for taking a stand for self-autonomy and economic freedom," said Jasen Bronec, DMEA's chief executive officer. "Tri-State publicly talks about the value of voluntary and open membership, but in their legal filings, they claim they can prevent any member from withdrawing while unilaterally setting abusive charges. This hurts rural Coloradans."

The Coalition of Ratepayers joins the diverse ranks of the Colorado Energy Office, which represents the interests of the governor's office and the State of Colorado as a whole, as well as United Power, La Plata Electric Association, the Sierra Club, Colorado Ski Country USA and many others -- all of which have stated support for DMEA.

Commenting on the various groups that have weighed in on DMEA's request, Bronec noted, "The diversity of our supporters speaks for itself. Citizens and organizations that usually disagree on politics and policy together agree on at least one thing: Tri-State's claim that it can restrict the freedom of rural Coloradans not only violates its "core principle" of voluntary and open membership, but it's just plain wrong."

News of this additional support comes the same week as a new letter to the PUC from ten additional state legislators requesting to be added to an earlier bipartisan list of more than 50 state legislators asking the PUC "to set a just, reasonable, and non-discriminatory exit charge for DMEA's exit from Tri-State." Commenting on the additional legislator letter, DMEA CEO Bronec said, "DMEA recognizes and appreciates that with these additional signatures, a majority of legislators in both the State House of Representatives and State Senate have signed a letter to the PUC supporting DMEA's request."

DMEA's case before the PUC continues to gather momentum. Next week the PUC is slated to make its decision on whether it has jurisdiction over DMEA's complaint. Despite the recent flurry of activity, the co-op remains focused on its members and continues to reaffirm its goals of rate stabilization, fairness to other Tri-State cooperatives, and local generation.

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