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At the recent COP26 climate conference, there was some progress on pledges to reduce emissions, even though there is more to be done to avoid the worst impacts from climate change.  It is critical for nations to take action and meet those pledges.  In the U.S., in order to reduce our emissions and meet our pledge, we need our electric utilities to increase renewable energy generation and phase out coal plants.

You have the opportunity to provide public comments to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about Tri-State’s plan to provide clean and affordable electricity.  Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is the parent regional electric cooperative of Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA).

SDCEA gets 95 percent of its electricity from Tri-State.  Colorado law has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2030 (over 2005 levels).  Tri-State has submitted an Electric Resource Plan (ERP) with the PUC that outlines how it will meet that goal.

What should you include in your email to the PUC?

Smart Energy Grids will be needed for the future. Image courtesy of National Energy Technology Laboratory

  • I like to start letters with an appreciation to the PUC for the work they do to keep utilities accountable.  You should introduce yourself and tell them that you are a SDCEA member (if you get your electricity from SDCEA).

  • Tell them how climate change impacts and concerns you.  For example, you could mention longer forest fire seasons, lower water tables, shorter ski and rafting seasons, etc.
  • Explain that you are writing about the Tri-State Electric Resource Plan and wish to share a public comment.  I think it’s great that Tri-State is proposing a preferred scenario where they meet the 80 percent reduction target.  It is critical that the final scenario also meets the 80 percent reduction target.
  • You might talk about concerns with Tri-State’s coal.  In their preferred scenario, they won’t fully close their Craig, CO coal plant until the end of 2029. I’d like for Tri-State to close their Craig plant earlier and not build additional natural gas facilities.  Perhaps they could look at the potential geothermal capabilities here in Chaffee County.  I would also urge them to provide just transitions for communities affected by coal plant closures.
  • In all of the scenarios, Tri-State should include the social cost of carbon.  This is the estimated cost of the impacts of emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  The social cost of coal is estimated to be around 3 cents/kWh in health effects and 2 cents/kWh in climate change.
  • Tri-State wants to limit new renewable capacity growth (solar/wind) to only 1,000 MW per year.  I think the PUC should push them to increase this amount, especially in outer years.  It costs less to add renewable energy than fossil fuels.

You can make your voice heard in this process by sending a public comment via email to the Colorado PUC at with the case number 20A-0528E in the subject line.

Please contact Clean Energy Chaffee via Facebook if you have any questions.

Sandy Long

Buena Vista