Delta-Montrose Withdraws From Tri-State, Resolving An Energy Industry Clash

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The coal-fired Craig Station power plant is operated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

A long-standing legal dispute in the Colorado energy industry came to an end Monday when Delta-Montrose Electric Association announced it would withdraw from its membership in Tri-State Generation & Transmission, effective May 1, 2020.

The early withdrawal is part of a definitive settlement agreement between the two energy companies.

Delta-Montrose Electric Association, a rural utility provider on the Western Slope, said it underwent the effort to secure cheaper rates for customers. To start out, DMEA CEO Virginia Harman said her company’s initial goal is to generate 15 percent of its power supply locally. She said this could come from sources like wind, solar or hydropower.

“There's been a lot of speculation and talk about what those resources are, but we don't have any concrete plans to move forward on any specific one yet,” said Harman.

Now the next phase of work begins. DMEA will have to figure out which substations and other equipment the utility will need to own to keep the lights on -- “pieces that are necessary for us to deliver power regardless of who our supplier is," said Harman.

The provider plans to partner with the Colorado-based Guzman Energy power supplier after its exit from Tri-State.

The settlement agreement between Tri-State and Delta-Montrose was filed last Friday with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Delta-Montrose serves about 28,000 residents in Montrose, Delta and Gunnison countries.