Delta-Montrose Electric Is Investing Big In Solar After Paying $62.5 Million To Split With Tri-State

Solar energy array in Weld County
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Solar energy array in Weld County, November 2019.

Delta-Montrose Electric Association announced plans to develop 10 megawatts of new solar in western Colorado as it prepares to take the reins from current power provider Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

It’s the first of many local renewable energy projects that DMEA Chief executive Officer Jasen Bronec hopes to bring to the region. 

“Start small and dream big,” Bronec said. “It’s exciting that we’ll have the ability to entertain a lot of different technologies be it batteries, be it coal-bed methane, be it small hydro projects.”

The news comes as two other Tri-State cooperative members, United Power and La Plata Electric Association, are exploring whether to cut ties with Tri-State

Earlier this month, the fee for DMEA’s departure from Tri-State became public. DMEA’s new power provider, Guzman Energy, will pay $62.5 million to Tri-State for the right to take over DMEA’s power supply agreement. DMEA will pay an additional $26 million to purchase transmission infrastructure from Tri-State.

Ultimately, DMEA’s ability to build and own local power projects in the community will jump from 5 to 20 percent under its agreement with Guzman. The western Colorado utility will also have a joint development agreement with Guzman that could help maximize development in DMEA’s western Colorado territory.

“We think that’s a really exciting part of this deal,” said Chris Riley, CEO of Guzman. “[It’s] local jobs, local investment, it increases the tax base and helps keep those energy dollars inside the community.”

DMEA follows in the footsteps of Kit Carson Electric, a cooperative based in New Mexico that paid $37.5 million to leave Tri-State in 2016. DMEA’s Bronec said his organization paid a higher fee to leave Tri-State because his organization had more customers.