An Energy Supply Workshop Session

An energy supply workshop session with the town of Buena Vista trustees was held Oct. 25, 2022.

Those on hand for the informational session included Duane Highley, Chief Executive Officer of Tri-State Generation & Transmission. Highley talked with the trustees about Tri-State’s efforts toward a goal of supplying 100% clean energy to members by 2040 and numerous other initiatives the company is exploring. As an electric generation and transmission cooperative, Tri-State owns the facilities to generate power supply, and the transmission assets to deliver that power to its members – 42 local distribution cooperatives in four states, including SDCEA. “I work for you,” Highley said.

SDCEA is an electric distribution cooperative – a cooperative that delivers electricity sourced primarily from Tri-State to the individual consumers we serve. Paul Erickson, CEO, opened the evening’s session with an overview of his career background, SDCEA’s not-for-profit cooperative business model and SDCEA’s priority of reliable, affordable, responsibly sourced power.



SDCEA’s Sarah McMahon, Chief Administrative Officer, briefed the trustees on Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, which applies to electric associations such as SDCEA and requires 10 percent of annual retail sales to be generated from eligible renewable energy resources. The statute allows distribution cooperatives to meet the Renewable Energy Standard by purchasing qualifying power from their wholesale power supplier – in our case, Tri-State. SDCEA not only meets these standards, SDCEA exceeds them. Combining the power purchased from Tri-State, with the power generated by Trout Creek Solar and consumer-owned generation (mostly rooftop solar), more than 40 percent of the everyday energy supply SDCEA delivers to our consumers today is from clean energy sources.

In 2019, additional clean energy targets were passed by the state legislature in SB 19-236. That is for an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions associated with electric sales by 2030 and applies to retail utilities providing electric service to more than 500,000 customers. SDCEA provides service to roughly 14,000 customers.

“Just because the statute does not apply directly to us,” McMahon said, “does not mean we are standing on the sidelines.”

SDCEA works with consumers to help reduce carbon emissions through several programs. McMahon encouraged further dialogue about carbon reduction with the trustees beyond the 20-minute workshop presentation timeframe allotted during the workshop.


In January 2020, Tri-State released their association’s clean energy transition plan: one that will expand renewable power generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring reliable, affordable, responsible electricity for Tri-State members and their communities. The plan was developed with input from numerous stakeholders.

Termed the Responsible Energy Plan (REP), Tri-State is implementing a clean energy transition while being responsible to their employees, members, communities, and the environment. The REP is dynamic and will change as members’ needs change, new technologies become available and market conditions evolve. Tri-State and members such as SDCEA have made great strides implementing the plan, which has allowed Tri-State to set new goals beyond those initially identified.

Highley also emphasized it is Tri-State’s priority to balance, in their electric supply planning, the need to be able to maintain a reliable power supply – to dispatch resources when needed such as during serious storms or other serious weather events – while meeting carbon reduction goals.

Responsible Energy Plan (REP) highlights:

  • By 2024, 50 percent of the electricity members use will come from clean energy. By 2030, Tri-State’s goal is for 70% of the energy supplied to members system-wide will be clean energy.
  • By 2024, more than 1,000 MW of utility-scale wind and solar projects developed by Tri-State will be online, doubling its current system supply to 2,000 MW.
  • Further emission reductions include by 2030 in Colorado, targeting a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from coal generation, 90% reduction in CO2 emissions across generation Tri-State owns or operates, and an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions associated with wholesale electricity sales.
  • Tri-State has committed $2 million to extend the public electric vehicle (EV) charging network across members’ service areas and is promoting EVs and EV solutions in rural areas.
  • Tri-State is expanding programs to help consumers save money and energy while cutting emissions through energy efficiency (EE), beneficial electrification (BE) and other initiatives.
  • As Tri-State implements the REP, the goal is to maintain or reduce rates for members in all states.
  • Tri-State is also promoting a western regional transmission organization (RTO) to efficiently and cost-effectively integrate more renewables into the grid and is striving for 100% clean energy in Colorado by 2040. All carbon emissions will be eliminated from Colorado and New Mexico Coal plants by 2030, as those plants are decommissioned.

For more information on Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan, click Responsible Energy Plan | Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc (