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Co-op Reps Meet with Sen. Mark Udall

August 8, 2012

Representatives of the Colorado Rural Electric Association and Tri-State G&T met with U.S. Senator Mark Udall at his Denver office this morning. Among the topics we discussed with the Senator and his staff were: coal ash regulation, cybersecurity legislation, the Chu memo, and the impacts of proposed EPA environmental regulations on coal-fired power generation.

Paul Griffin, Tri-State’s Federal Government Relations Advisor, explained the concerns of Tri-State and other WAPA customers regarding the recent effort of the Department of Energy to “repurpose” the functions of the federal power marketing administrations. Paul told Senator Udall that the hydropower marketed by WAPA is a key component of Tri-State’s power generation portfolio and helps keeps costs affordable to Tri-State’s members and their member-owners. CREA Secretary Don Kaufman told Senator Udall that the primary concern of the member-owners of Sangre de Cristo Electric Association is keeping power costs affordable, and that low-cost WAPA power is critical in meeting that objective. We thanked Senator Udall for his support of a letter expressing concerns about this DOE initiative.

We also asked Senator Udall to consider supporting a recently-introduced Senate bill that would prohibit the EPA from regulating coal combustion residuals (CCR, or coal ash) as a hazardous material. Today, coal ash is recycled into many useful products such as wallboard and concrete and if the material is designated as hazardous there will be no further beneficial uses and disposal will become a very costly proposition. Senator Udall agreed to review some information that we provided on the subject.

CREA Vice President Bill Midcap and Treasurer Jack Schneider talked about recent events at their co-ops (Morgan County and Poudre Valley), including their efforts to restore service after recent fires. Senator Udall offered to help with obtaining FEMA assistance if necessary. We also had a chance to tell Senator Udall about the many co-op community solar farm and small hydro projects that have recently broken ground in co-op territory, as well as the deployment of automated metering infrastructure, the so-called “smart meters.”

We appreciate the efforts of Senator Udall’s staff in setting up the meeting, and his willingness to meet with electric co-op folks to talk about issues that are important to us. Although he planned to attend the Denver rally for President Obama this afternoon, we’re pretty sure the highlight of Senator Udall’s day was meeting with members of the Colorado electric co-op community!

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