Our Energy Mix

Mountain View Electric Association and the Colorado Rural Electric Association regularly discuss Colorado’s rapidly evolving energy landscape in the pages of Colorado Country Life magazine. Topics in recent years have included large-scale policy change driven by the decreasing cost of renewable energy, increasing support for an energy portfolio change by Colorado’s elected officials, the passing of House Bill 19-1261 “A Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution,” and the announcement in 2019 by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, MVEA’s wholesale power supplier, to create a Responsible Energy Plan to meet regulatory demands. The changes in recent years have been rapid, sweeping, and, at times, surprising. In January 2020, Tri-State made two announcements that will further transform Colorado’s energy landscape.

A Retirement Plan For Coal

Tri-State retired all coal generation in New Mexico in 2020, with plans to retire its remaining Colorado coal plants and coal mine by 2030. According to Tri-State, the closures will result in a 100% reduction of coal emissions in Colorado and New Mexico while increasing Tri-State’s competitiveness with a cleaner portfolio and stable rates. The first question many people had following the announcement in 2020 was about the overall impact the changes would have on rates and reliability. Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Tri-State, shared the following, “Tri-State is favorably positioned to successfully transition our resources at the lowest possible cost. The low costs of renewable energy and operating cost reductions help to counterbalance the cost to retire our coal assets early.”

Responsible Energy Plan Action Items

Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan action items help to address some of the questions about the retirement of Colorado and New Mexico coal generation. The action items that are part of its energy transition align with the state regulatory changes that were introduced and passed in 2019.

According to Tri-State, its clean energy transition significantly expands renewable energy generation, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, extends the benefits of a clean grid, and will share more flexibility for self-generation with members. Some of the Responsible Energy Plan action items include: increasing renewables to 50% of energy consumed by members by 2025; reducing emissions with the closure of all coal plants operated by Tri-State; increasing member flexibility to develop more local, self-supplied renewable energy; extending benefits of a clean grid through expanded electric vehicle infrastructure and beneficial electrification programs.

What do these changes mean to MVEA members? Since Tri-State is MVEA’s wholesale power supplier, any policy or change that impacts Tri-State, has a potential to impact MVEA members. According to Tri-State, the changes will not impact rates or reliability. The end goal is a cleaner grid and a reduction in emissions. Tri-State’s leadership and board of directors are unified in their goal to create a lower-cost wholesale power portfolio that is both clean and reliable.

According to Energy Information Association reports that looks at national energy use data, Tri-State is not alone in its energy transition. The long-term forecast indicates renewables will be the largest source of electricity after 2045, a forecast that Tri-State is proud to support. “We’re not just changing direction, we’re emerging as the leader of the energy transition,” Highley shared when the actions were announced.

“Members of Tri-State benefit today from an increasingly clean and reliable energy supply that is more than a third renewable today and rising to 50% clean energy in just over two years,” said Chief Executive Officer Duane Highley. “By 2030, 70% of the energy our members use will come from clean, zero-emission resources.”

Whether you support or oppose the industry changes, MVEA members are encouraged to visit Tri-State’s website to learn more about Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan.

Total System Capacity
Generation Source Share
Coal 34%
Renewables 33%
Gas 17%
Basin 14%
Oil 2%