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Report: Tri-State Should Stay Away From More of "Old King Coal"

November 12, 2008

Albuquerque, NM - The giant utility that serves many New Mexico electrical co-ops, Tri-State, should reconsider plans to build another coal-fired power plant to meet increased demand. That's the finding of a new report that suggests investing in renewable energy could actually save ratepayers more money than more coal. The report by the Innovest Group shows how the increased likelihood of carbon restrictions under a new administration, combined with a troubled economy, could lead to higher utility rates.

Tony Frank with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union says Tri-State should take a more serious look at renewable energy production. He says there's growing interest in locally produced wind, solar and biomass energy.

"From Pine Bluff, Wyoming down to Tucumcari, New Mexico, we're seeing meetings with great attendance and rural communities that want to be active participants in creating electricity locally."

Dan McClendon, who manages the Delta-Montrose Electric Association in Colorado, believes all the electric co-ops and their members need to help Tri-State move past an "all-coal" approach.

"That's the formula that has worked for them in the past. I think that they're looking for other options, but they just don't know what else they can do, other than what they've done in the past."

Tri-State has proposed building a new coal plant near the Kansas-Colorado border, which it says would provide the cheapest, most reliable source of power for its customers. The report finds expected new regulations for carbon emissions could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs that would likely be passed on to ratepayers.

The report is at www.innovestgroup.com. It was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM