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Colorado Public Utilities Commission dismisses exit proceedings between United Power, Tri-State


The Colorado Public Utilities Commission partially sided with Westminster’s Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. in a yearlong legal fight between it and its want-away largest customer.

In a statement Friday, the state’s regulatory commission said it didn’t have jurisdiction over the dispute between Tri-State, Brighton’s United Power Inc. and Durango-based La Plata Electric Association Inc. because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had declared oversight of the case in August.

The commission also said a dispute over whether Tri-State was legally allowed to bring in natural-gas broker MEICO Inc. as a non-utility provider is not a matter it can decide.

“Because this question is a matter of corporate law, not public utilities law, the PUC found it does not have the jurisdiction to decide that question,” the commission said.

The CPUC’s decision is a victory for Tri-State in an ongoing, complex and bitter legal war against United, its largest member.

United and LPEA asked the state commission last November to intervene after Tri-State refused to give them permission to seek other power providers. Tri-State members are required to source 95% of their power mix from the wholesaler, although Tri-State will loosen those restrictions next year.

United has claimed in a lawsuit that Tri-State intentionally misled the co-op into accepting MEICO as a member, which it later used to request federal oversight and further delay United’s efforts to buy its way out of the wholesale contract.

In its own statement, United said it will continue that lawsuit currently in Adams County District Court.

“We know the PUC was put in an awkward position of having to rule on a corporate law decision,” United interim CEO Bryant Robbins said. “The need of having the District Court hear the case was not unexpected.”

United covers all of Brighton and several smaller towns in Weld County, such as Erie, Frederick, Firestone, Fort Lupton and Keenesburg. It also provides power to parts of northeast Thornton, Broomfield and Lafayette.

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