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Co-op Reps Challenge DOE Initiative

August 1, 2012

Electric co-op member-owners from across Colorado were out in force yesterday at a workshop and listening session hosted by the Department of Energy in Loveland, Colorado. The purpose of the workshop and listening session was for interested parties to have an opportunity to express their concerns or ask questions about a new initiative from DOE that was first announced in a March 16 memo authored by DOE Secretary Steven Chu.

The “Chu memo” directs the federal power marketing administrations, including the Western Area Power Administration, to develop rate structures that will incentivize: energy efficiency and demand response programs; integration of variable resources; and preparation for electric vehicle deployment. The memo also directs WAPA to move ahead with the development of an energy imbalance market that will capture “untapped efficiencies” in the Western Interconnection.

All of these directives cause concern among WAPA’s western customers, including Tri-State and the other municipal and cooperative utilities that depend on the affordable hydropower from WAPA   dams. At last night’s listening session, directors and employees of Highline Electric Association, Morgan County Rural Electric Association, Gunnison County Electric Association, Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Tri-State G&T and CREA all told Secretary Chu’s special assistant, Lauren Azar, that we believe the policy initiatives outlined in the Chu memo are ill-advised and unnecessary.

Colorado’s electric co-ops have long been proponents of energy efficiency and the smart use of electricity, and are leaders in the integration of renewable distributed generation as well as automated metering infrastructure. It is unlikely that this DOE effort will enhance our efforts, and we believe the agency should instead focus on the core mission of WAPA and the other PMA’s, that is, to provide low-cost hydropower to municipal and cooperative utilities.

 

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