Small steps taken to rein in Tri-State

As a member and trustee of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos, N.M., I was pleased to read your editorial about Tri-State Generation & Transmission. (Herald, Sept. 15). Kit Carson is one of the 44 member cooperatives of Tri-State. I congratulate you on the succinct, informed and well-reasoned observations and agree completely. After Tri-State sought to raise its wholesale electric rates to New Mexico cooperative members, effective Jan. 1, 2013, for the ninth time in 13 years, a group of New Mexico cooperatives protested to the N.M. Public Regulation Commission, which suspended the increase pending a hearing on the legality of Tri-State’s rate structure. This action alone will save the members of the 14 New Mexico Tri-State member cooperatives, using Tri-State’s figures, more than $14 million in wholesale charges this year. Tri-State went forward with the proposed rate increase in spite of the New Mexico cooperatives pointing out the same irrationality and lack of logic that you alluded to in the editorial.

Once it became apparent to Tri-State that the New Mexico regulators were serious about examining its rate structure, Tri-State fled to federal court in Albuquerque to make the same argument described in your editorial, namely, that state regulators have no jurisdiction over it because it is engaged in interstate commerce. In addition to the fallacy of that position, Tri-State also ignores in that action the fact that in 2001 it agreed to be regulated by the New Mexico PRC in order to acquire Plains Electric Generation & Transmission and do business in New Mexico. The New Mexico litigation on this issue is pending.

It is time that Tri-State’s bullying of its member cooperatives and gouging of cooperative members with outrageous wholesale electric rates is subjected to regulation by state agencies established for the purpose of protecting consumers. The actions of the New Mexico PRC and the administrative law judge in Colorado are small first steps in, what I hope will be, a reining in of the imperious giant that Tri-State has become.

Peter J. Adang

Ranchos de Taos, N.M.

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