This Coal-Heavy Rural Co-Op Utility is Buying its First Solar Plants

Colorado-based Tri-State will soon serve half its customers’ electricity needs with renewable energy, thanks to new Inflation Reduction Act policies.

June 13, 2024

Article from Canary Media

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, one of the largest rural cooperative utilities in the U.S., is bringing the energy transition home to its massive western service territory. It’s acquiring its first large-scale solar power plants as it prepares to shift away from its current dependence on coal power.

Tri-State generates and transmits power to 41 member cooperatives, which retail to 1 million customers in rural Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska (four states, despite the name). The customer base spans 200,000 square miles, more land than the entirety of California, with an average density of just five customers per mile of power line. Just a few years ago, two member cooperatives quit Tri-State to seek cheaper, cleaner power elsewhere. Since then, Tri-State has rolled out a series of clean energy commitments that it says will deliver 50 percent renewable electricity by the end of 2025, up from 33 percent in 2023.

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