Friday, August 19, 2016

Follow up on Tri-State's LPEA waiver request

I wrote the following as a "Letter to the Editor" in the weekly Durango Telegraph 
(8/18/2016) about the Tri-State, LPEA waiver request which seems to be fizzling out - pending yet another round of appeals and lawyerly bickering.  What remains is Tri-State Generation and Transmission unwavering commitment to suppressing regional alternative energy resource development.   
Our local LaPlata Electrical Association is but one of over forty co-ops that Tri-State supplies.  Tri-State is but one of 65 Generation and Transmission CO-OPs supplying 840 distribution co-ops across America.  Too many are still run by dinosaurs committed to yesteryear's realities, while ignoring the changes happening upon our only Earth.
What's important is that these distribution co-ops are member owned, meaning the public is welcome to attend their monthly board of directors meetings.   
Inform yourself, and help educate others, be a citizen's lobbyist.  One informed, honest, communicative individual can make a difference, even if that individual doesn't realize it yet.  But you'll never know until you go. 
Back in June there was a bunch of excitement about the LPEA board of directors considering signing a negotiation-waiver with Tri-State Generation and Transmission the supplier of the electricity that LPEA co-op distributes.  The waiver stipulates that Tri-State would be primary negotiator on contracts with all future alternative energy ventures. 

Basically Tri-State’s waiver would result in relegating LPEA to the position of an impotent, but vital, junior partner in all future forays into developing regional alternate energy sources.  The problem with this plan is that Tri-State has a long history of being hostile towards alternate energy development.  What alternative energy development Tri-State is involved in is minimal, forced, and more focused on PR mileage then on genuine commitment to develop alternate energy sources.  Coal remains their game and strangling expansion of alternate energy seems their business model.

In support of my opinion I offer a couple pieces of evidence. 
First, Tri-State’s long battle against Delta Montrose Electrical Association, a co-op that’s enthusiastically committed to developing alternate energy.  A co-op that has long felt unreasonably hobbled and even bullied by Tri-state’s hostility towards alternative energy development and who have been fighting back before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  

Significantly after July’s LPEA board meeting, FERC handed down a stinging rebuke, when it ruled against Tri-State’s petition in a systematic review of Tri-State’s arguments and claims - that soundly rejected each, some with prejudice.  To summarize.
“as per PURPA Delta Montrose Electric Association not only has the right but the obligation to purchase electricity directly from “Qualifying Facilities” (QFs) over and above the five percent cap” - (Tri-State’s contract limit).

Second there is the shameful reality that the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act *is nearly four decades old.  At the time Congress and industry leaders made a commitment to develop alternate energy sources both for their sustainability and in order to slow down our burning of fossil fuels, given their by-products’ profound global geophysical impact.  Such as increasing our Earth’s atmospheric insulation, thereby warming our biosphere, with all its detrimental cascading consequences.
* also see: 

Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA)

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act

That 5% was a start-up hurdle!  A warm up challenge that was supposed to have been achieved in short order.  Using that learning curve to move forward with expanding alternate energy utilization.  That didn’t happen. 

Reaganomics and faith in limitless growth on a finite planet happened.  Alternative Energy became a political casualty, reduced to crawled along under constant cross fire thanks to strong-arm lobbying and legal maneuvering of Tri-State in concert with quite a number of special interests. 

We got four decades of dirty tricks, malicious misrepresentation of science, bullying, out-screaming experts and then came the bizarre faith-based neo-Republican rejection of basic science and constructive rational learning.   

You young college students reading this, does it matter to you?  It’s your future.  The folks most responsible for this mess are leaving the stage, but there are still many going strong.  You’re the serious ones actively learning and striving for future goals.   They’re spent and confused at what’s happening out there because they are trapped within their twentieth century outlook.  A peculiar outlook that believes faith can trump facts and that rationality and constructive learning must be rejected.  It’s your future to save.

Back at LPEA, since Tri-State decided to continue hostilities by appealing FERC’s decision and who knows what all their lawyers are cooking up, LPEA’s board has ‘tabled’ Tri-State’s waiver.  As of now, the waiver sits there and the underlying antipathy towards alternate energy development continues simmering.  If it matters to you, get involved. 

The LaPlata Electrical Association is a co-op and member owned.  Their board meetings are open and the public is welcome, usually the third Wednesday of the month, starting at 9am.  Walk right in, set right down.  If you have something to say or questions to ask, they will listen and reply.  Be civil and thoughtful and they will respond in kind.  

Or, simply listen in, it’s quite informative, even if a touch boring, and it's the only way to start appreciating the complexities of our power distribution network and the challenges LPEA is wrestling with.  If you’re concerned about your future or the direction LPEA is going, the only way board members will know is if you demonstrate your interest and share your concerns.  

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