Rural Energy at a Crossroads

Electric Cooperatives Trapped in System Causing High Energy Costs

A new study conducted by The Western Way examines the massive structural changes in U.S. electricity markets over the past 10 years – in particular, rapidly falling prices for natural gas and renewable energy that have created lower-cost energy alternatives for consumers – but rural consumers remain tied to electric cooperatives that are not capturing these market competitive energy solutions.

The study details the critical situation facing rural electricity cooperatives in western states that are trapped in the Tri-State Generation and Transmission system that is resulting in unsustainable electricity rate increases. Key findings of the study include:

  • In western states, Tri-State Generation & Transmission is now charging 212 percent more for electricity than competitive wholesale providers in the same region.
  • From 2000-2016, Tri-State members experienced 12 rate increases resulting in increases of 103 percent.
  • Tri-State now has over $3 billion in debt and has been forced to increase rates to maintain that high debt load.
  • From 2013 to 2018, Tri-State’s net margins fell from $73 million to $43, meaning even higher electricity rate increases for rural consumers appear inevitable in order to comply with terms of its Master Indenture.
  • Cooperatives attempting to leave the Tri-State system to capture cost savings now available through energy advancements in renewables and natural gas are being forced to pay unreasonable exit fees.

State and local leaders must engage to create changes to ensure rural electricity consumers regain access to market competitive energy options.

The full report is available at:

“Advances in technology and changes in energy markets are driving lower cost solutions for most electricity consumers – but rural consumers are being left out,” said study co-author Greg Brophy. “Rural economies are already facing economic challenges and the prospect of ever-increasing electricity rates for rural citizens and small businesses has become a critical problem that requires the immediate attention of state and local leaders.”

About The Western Way
The Western Way is focused on fiscal conservative, market-competitive solutions to environmental and conservation challenges facing our country.

Source: The Western Way


Categories: Energy

Tags: Energy Markets, Rural Cooperatives, Rural Energy

About The Western Way

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The Western Way is a nonprofit urging Western conservative leaders to deliver efficient, pro-market solutions to environmental and conservation challenges.

John Karakoulakis
The Western Way, The Western Way
The Western Way
1701 California St, LL#1021
Denver, CO 80202
United States