Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State) recently filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission a petition requesting that the commission grant a variance from the requirement that Tri-State file its next Electric Resource Plan (ERP) by Oct. 31.
Tri-State further requested that the commission extend the deadline for Tri-State to file its next ERP until Dec. 31, 2020.
Tri-State also noted that its last ERP was filed in 2015 – in compliance with the requirements set forth in a 2010 commission decision – and that in 2017, the commission opened a proceeding to solicit input and information from stakeholders and interested participants concerning potential changes to the commission’s Rules Regulating Electric Utilities, including the ERP Rules.
While the issues of interest to the commission as identified in the decision opening the “pre-rulemaking” proceedings, as well as the majority of the stakeholder comments, generally pertained to investor-owned utilities, Tri-State participated in the proceeding and the various stakeholder workshops, given that certain of the Electric Rules apply to it, Tri-State said.
The commission closed that proceeding in October 2018, and on Feb. 27, issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in a separate proceeding wherein it proposed specific amendments to the Electric Rules in six areas, including the ERP Rules, Tri-State said.
As noted in that NOPR, the six areas are the:
- Rules governing electric resource planning
- Renewable Energy Standard Rules
- Net Metering Rules
- Rules governing community solar gardens
- Provisions for utility purchases from qualifying facilities
- Interconnections standards and procedures
In its filing, Tri-State said that the proposed changes to the ERP Rules were identified in the NOPR and its attachments as involving “Rules 3601 (overview and purpose), 3602 (definitions), 3603 ([ERP] filing requirements), 3604 (contents of the [ERP]), 3606 (electric energy and demand forecasts), 3607 (assessment of existing resources), 3609 (planning reserve margins and contingency plans), 3610 (assessment of need for resources), 3611 (exemptions and exclusions), 3613 (best value employment metrics), 3614 (Phase I), and 3615 (Phase II).”
Tri-State noted that it participated in the proceeding and evaluated the proposed changes to Rules 3602, 3603, 3606, 3607, 3609(a), and 3610, which Tri-State said are the only proposed changes to ERP Rules applicable to cooperative electric generation and transmission associations such as Tri-State.
Discussing Rule 3603, the NOPR noted that under the existing ERP Rules, utilities submit their initial ERP filings on Oct. 31 every four years coincident with the year of gubernatorial inaugurations.
“We propose to maintain the four-year filing cycle but move the filing deadline from October 31 to February 1,” the NOPR said. “For this particular rulemaking, moving the initial filing deadline for the utilities’ next ERP from October 31, 2019 to February 1, 2020 will accommodate the time required to re-notice the proposed rule changes in this rulemaking proceeding in May or June 2019, as necessary, to take into account any statutory changes enacted by the 2019 General Assembly and signed into law.”
Tri-State said in its filing that during an April 29 hearing in connection with the NOPR, the issue of revisiting the 2010 decision and requiring Tri-State to file its ERP in an adjudicatory proceeding was discussed with the commissioners for the first time, with that discussion including whether such a change was necessary, the potential scope of the existing or new ERP Rules that would apply to Tri-State, and the process by which any such new rules would be promulgated, i.e., in a separate rulemaking or in a continuation of the current NOPR proceeding.
The April 29 discussion focused essentially on the question of whether the commission, under its existing regulatory authority, should depart from its 2010 decision and subject Tri-State to some form of expanded ERP requirements. Tri-State added that that question was answered to an extent with the enactment of Senate Bill 19-236, which provides that the commission is to promulgate rules that require each wholesale electric cooperative to submit to the commission an application for approval of an integrated or ERP. That bill also provides that the commission is to evaluate a wholesale electric cooperative plan using rules that the commission has adopted that are applicable to wholesale electric cooperatives, Tri-State said.
The bill provides that in developing rules for a wholesale electric cooperative, the commission must consider, for instance, whether each electric cooperative serves a multi-state operational jurisdiction; has a not-for-profit ownership structure; and has a resource plan that meets the energy policy goals of the state.
Among other things, Tri-State said that an extension of its ERP filing deadline is warranted to allow sufficient time for development and promulgation of the new ERP rules that will apply to wholesale electric cooperatives, to engage with stakeholders, and to develop a new ERP consistent with the rules.