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Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., the wholesale power supplier of United Power Inc. of Brighton and 44 other cooperatives in four states of the West, has increased its goal of movement toward non-carbon-generated electricity and committed to reducing rates by 8% over the next four years.

Duane Highley, CEO of Tri-State, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the changes to Tri-State’s plans at a news conference Thursday.

Highley said the utility would submit its revised plans to the state Public Utilities Commission by Dec. 1. The “preferred scenario” in that plan reduces emissions associated with its wholesale electricity sales in Colorado by 80% by 2030.  That’s an increase from the 70% reduction that it announced in January.

The utility will accomplish the reduction in coal-fired generation by shutting down its coal plants in Craig in 2028 and 2029, increasing its use of renewable power through development of additional wind and solar resources, and working with other regional utilities to improve transmission resources so that a large area of the West will have access to more clean energy on a reliable scale, Highley said in his presentation.

Tri-State will add more wind and solar resources, Highley said, and expand battery storage capacity — beyond what it said it would do in January.

“We’re committed to serving our members and doing our part to help Colorado meet its carbon  reduction goals,” Highley said.

Polis congratulated Tri-State on its plan, which fits with the clean-energy goals of the state. “From day one of my administration, we’ve focused on green energy and growing jobs in that industry,” Polis said.

Polis said the plan as it will be outlined in December increases reliability and makes the energy supply more affordable. “Colorado is a model in taking climate action, and we need that on a national and international level,” he said.

Highley said creating a larger power grid in the West is part of the utility’s consideration, and to that end it is joining with four other cooperatives in an effort to join with the Southwest Power Pool’s regional transmission organization. The four other cooperatives are Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in North Dakota, Deseret Power Cooperative in Utah, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska and the Western Area Power Administration, which manages the federal hydropower resources.

Highley said that because Colorado is geographically positioned between the eastern and western power grids, it “has the ability to arbitrage between” east and west.

The expansion of the transmission network will permit Colorado generators to export green power when they have excess, and import green power when it is needed.

“Tri-State does not plan to bring in coal-generated power from the Southwest Power Pool,” Highley said.

Connecting to the West’s abundant solar capacity, coupled with the East’s abundant wind capacity,  creates an opportunity in the Rocky Mountain region, the utility said.

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