To: SDCEA, Ark Valley Voice
CC: Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, Representative Doug Lamborn, Colorado PUC
This is a copy of a letter to the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SCDEA) Board of Directors that was also sent to appropriate state and federal officials, as well as the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), regarding our concerns about our local rural electric co-op:
This letter is to protest the rate increases, and other changes, particularly for rooftop solar (net metering) Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) co-op members. The CEO of the SDCEA has been quoted as saying that the SDCEA has the highest electric rates in the state due to the rugged terrain and the number of second homes, among other things. Certainly, there are several other regions of the state which are equally as rugged, and have even more second homes.
Evidently, the SDCEA at one point committed to a solar farm, but now says that because it (the SDCEA) has no “tax appetite”, it is not going to buy a solar farm because they wouldn’t get a tax benefit. (They are nonprofit.) I have read that the new infrastructure plan would make not-for-profit electric co-ops eligible for direct-pay tax credits, both investment and production credits, for clean energy (alternative) generation and storage.
When we bought our house near Salida in 2007 and got our first electric bill from the SDCEA, we were shocked at the high rates. We checked with friends in Salida who were supplied energy by Xcel Energy and discovered that, for a similar sized house with two occupants, their cost was approximately half of ours. Obviously, we have no say over which electric company provides our electrical power, so we decided to try to mitigate our costs and do something to help climate factors by buying a solar electrical system. At the time of installation of our system, our contractor got obvious push-back from the SDCEA, with all sorts of delays. We were also charged about $900 by the SDCEA for a separate net meter. In phone conversations with the SDCEA at the time, it was made clear by them that they wanted to discourage the use of individual solar power since they wanted to sell more units of electricity. This was at a time when they should have been going all out to encourage alternative energy, due to the perilous state of our climate.
Now we find that the SDCEA is further discriminating against domestic producers of alternative energy by, potentially, doubling our electric bills by treating us as unequal co-op members.
The CEO of SDCEA has also complained about the complicated relationship with Tri-State Power, which evidently relies on coal-fired energy production. Other electric co-ops have dumped Tri-State and have negotiated cheaper wholesale rates with other companies. These co-ops are now pursuing renewable energy, not penalizing members with rooftop solar collectors. It is now known that solar energy produced on an industrial scale is cheaper than coal-fired energy production.
The SDCEA needs to alter its approach and go with the change to alternative energy.
Rebecca and David Berry