IREA pursues RTO discussions

Colorado’s 72nd General Assembly kicked off Jan. 4 with a new slate of legislators and statewide officials. Twelve of the 35 senators are new to the Chamber, as well as 23 of the 65 representatives. Both the House and Senate this year are controlled by the Democratic Party, and all four statewide offices are held by Democrats. House Speaker K.C. Becker, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville all represent portions of IREA’s service territory, and we are pleased they have taken on such important leadership roles this year.

IREA is seeking legislative support that encourages participation by Colorado electric utilities in a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO). IREA believes an RTO will benefit all Coloradans.

In 2013, a group of utilities operating in Colorado and neighboring states created the Mountain West Transmission Group (MWTG) to evaluate transmission service options, including participation in an RTO. In a proceeding before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the MWTG concluded that joining an RTO would benefit Colorado utilities by:

• Eliminating add-on charges for wholesale transactions between utilities by providing a single tariff for all transmission users within defined areas;

• Improving use of transmission line capacity;

• Increasing use of and access to cost-effective generation resources; and

• Providing participating utilities annual financial benefits estimated at $14 million to $53 million.

It also is recognized that an RTO will allow Colorado utilities more cost-effective access to renewable energy than is available without an RTO.

The MWTG was on the verge of finalizing an agreement with the Southwest Power Pool RTO, but Xcel Energy halted the process by pulling out of MWTG for its own business reasons. Despite this setback, an RTO that includes Colorado can and should be pursued.

One potential path to an RTO may be to authorize the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to take action concerning participation of regulated electric utilities in an RTO. The General Assembly could authorize the PUC to open a proceeding to investigate the potential costs and benefits of participation in an RTO and issue a decision determining whether regulated electric utilities participating in an RTO will result in benefits, and, if benefits do exist, direct electric utilities to pursue RTO membership.

We will continue to update you through this publication on the progress of legislation for the remainder of the legislative session. We look forward to working with all legislators to protect and advance the interests of IREA’s customers.

For legislative updates, please sign up for our Legislative Alerts here by submitting the customer contact form with subject “Legislative Alert Sign Up.” Customers who sign up to receive legislative alerts will be emailed updates regarding the current legislative session.

When necessary, we may ask for your help in voicing your opinion to your legislator regarding specific pieces of legislation that may affect you.