United Power held a member forum on June 7 to discuss the upcoming exit from its current wholesale power contract and highlight opportunities to purchase low cost, high reliability power that is produced in an environmentally responsible manner. In April, the cooperative filed a nonconditional Notice of Intent to Withdraw from Tri-State Generation and Transmission, reaffirming its decision to leave its wholesale power supplier. The withdrawal is effective May 1, 2024.
Mark A. Gabriel, United Power’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Dean Hubbuck, the cooperative’s Chief Energy Resources Officer, discussed the exit process, goals of the transition, and impact to members with both in person and virtual attendees. Gabriel reassured members the shift in power suppliers would not affect their status as members of the cooperative and the exit was ultimately about controlling costs and potentially lowering rates.
“We’re working diligently so that we can save money,” Gabriel said. “If we can control costs and if we can manage to get better pricing out in the market, we are able then to lower rates. I think that’s something that’s critical as a member-owned cooperative.”
Hubbuck provided a high-level overview of various steps the cooperative has taken to negotiate a fair and equitable contract termination fee through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including several recent decisions in favor of United Power, and its recent request for proposal (RFP) for new power supply.
“We are expecting a healthy response to our RFP, which is due in the early part of August,” Hubbuck said. “We’ll spend about two months evaluating proposals before selecting a handful of suppliers to work with directly. We hope to select a supplier, or group of suppliers, and begin contract negotiations early next year.”
United Power has attempted to negotiate contract modifications with its wholesale power supplier, including an option for partial requirements, but has been met with resistance. The current contract no longer makes economic sense for the cooperative or its members. It limits local generation and member flexibility while rates are well above market price.
“Historically, our wholesale power contract was entered into because, at that time, our most pressing issue was to secure a reliable source of power when very few viable options were available,” said Beth Martin, United Power’s Board Chairman. “Our situation has substantially changed, with more affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable power supply options now available. We believe we should deliver electricity that is more reflective of the current market price, ultimately helping our members save."
More information about United Power’s contract negotiations and transition to new power suppliers is available on the Power Supply page. Members who were unable to attend the Power Supply Forum can watch it here.