Tri-State took on staggering amounts of debt to finance its coal-fired power plants and purchase the coal mines to supply them. It now finds itself deeply in the red, which limits its ability to make investments in new, clean-energy investments like wind and solar, and the transmission to deliver electricity to the grid. Renewable energy is not only better for the environment, but it is now significantly less expensive than fossil fuel based generation resources. Tri-State needs to remove the albatross of coal debt to give it the borrowing power to make the transition toward cheaper rates and cleaner energy.
Thankfully, there is now another path toward cheaper rates and cleaner energy. Tri-State also needs to make sure they are taking care of the workers who dedicated their careers to keeping the lights on for rural Colorado, and the communities they live in. Tri-State has failed to ensure a just transition for communities like Nucla who lost 46% of its property tax base when Tri-State shuttered the Nucla Generating Station and New Horizon coal mine.
There are currently several federal proposals that would help bring down these crippling costs and put generation and transmission companies like Tri-State on a path toward a greener, cleaner, and cheaper future.
At their core, these proposals would allow G&Ts to refinance their debt to help lower the rates these companies charge their respective member-owners.
That’s a great start, but we need to ensure that Tri-State stops investing in these dated, polluting coal facilities and make certain that if a company refinances coal debt using taxpayer money, that they be required to develop a plan to shutter their coal plants, help local communities make the transition to a clean energy future, and invest in new renewable energy.
A program that stops burning coal in exchange for transitioning to affordable, renewable electricity can be a win-win for rural Colorado and other rural electric coops across the country – cleaner air, new renewable energy, and jobs to build these new facilities. The time to invest in our rural communities is now.
Senator Bennet and Senator Hickenlooper need to hear from you! Please reach out to your federal elected officials and ask them to support this coal for renewables swap today!