OK, so it covers four states, but who's counting? Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association supplies wholesale electricity to 44 rural distribution utilities that serve about 1.5 million customers (more than 601,230 meters) in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming (New Mexico was a late addition to the association's service region). The member-owned cooperative has a generating capacity of about 4,250 MW primarily from its interests in fossil-fueled power plants, and it operates more than 5,190 miles of transmission lines. Tri-State Generation and Transmission also purchases power and sells its excess supply to non-member utilities.
Heavily reliant on coal-fired facilities, the company is moving to increase its renewable power in order to meet tightening environmental regulations. In 2009, as part of its push to cut carbon emissions, the company teamed up with First Solar, agreeing to develop a 30 MW solar power plant in northeastern New Mexico. The project, which came online in 2011, is the largest photovoltaic project undertaken by an electric cooperative.
That year Tri-State Generation and Transmission also signed a 20-year deal with Duke Energy through which it will purchase the production of a new 51 MW wind farm in Colorado. Both projects became operational in 2010.
Power demand from members was up more than 5% in 2010, which more than offset a slight dip in non-member power demand, helping to lift the company's overall revenues for the year. The increased revenues also outstripped a growth in power costs, enabling Tri-State Generation and Transmission to report stronger operating income for the year.
Boosting its conventional power resources, in 2011 the company acquired Thermo Cogeneration Partnership (TCP) and Greenhouse Holdings (GHH). TCP owns the 272-MW natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant located near Fort Lupton, Colorado. GHH owns a greenhouse facility in the same area.
Hotter-than-usual weather in 2011 helped to spur increased member demand for power. However, the deferral of $55 million of 2011 non-member electric sales revenues led to a drop of 3% in total revenues. Net margins also dropped by almost 10%, due to higher purchased power, fuel, and transmission costs.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission added to its wind power assets in 2012, signing a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the 67-MW Colorado Highlands Wind project, the state's newest renewable energy project.
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