If you are a SMPA member, that is, if you pay for electricity that is fed into your home or business from the grid, you are invited to attend the San Miguel Power Association’s annual meeting June 6 from 4:30-7 p.m. at the SMPA Ridgway office at 720 North Railroad Street. Among other activities at the meeting, Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s new CEO Duane Highley will be there to meet and greet SMPA members. If you want lower cost electricity and a mix of more renewable energy, this is a good opportunity to chat with Highley about what’s important to you with regard to your power supply. (SMPA is a member of Tri State Generation and Transmission and buys its power from Tri-State.)

The tide is changing in terms of electricity generation in Colorado.

Colorado still generates the majority of its power from coal and natural gas, though the recently signed HB 1261 requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent economy-wide by 2050 below 2005 levels, and has committed to reduce CO2 emissions 26 percent by 2025. That means there is work to be done in the renewable energy space, and soon. How will Tri-State meet those goals and what can members do to help?

Xcel Energy, the largest power provider in the state, committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 in December. Yet, this affects only energy users in the Front Range and does not apply to us, SMPA members. Our neighboring co-ops like Delta-Montrose Electric Association and La Plata Electric Association are looking into other ways to get more affordable and less expensive solar and wind power to their communities because Tri-State has so far been unable to provide a majority of energy from renewable sources.

Glenwood Springs is set to become the seventh US city or town to run on 100 percent renewable energy, starting on June 1. Glenwood Springs (pop. 10,000) will be getting most of its electricity from wind power, supplied by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). The city’s electricity prices are expected to drop from $51/MWh to $46/MWh, saving the city $500,000 annually. Glenwood Springs will join Kodiak Island, Alaska, Aspen, Greensburg, Kansas., Rock Port, Missouri, Georgetown, Texas and Burlington, Vermont. as cities running on 100 percent renewable energy. Why can’t Telluride be on this list?

This is why the Carbon Neutral Coalition would like to encourage you to come to San Miguel Power’s annual meeting in Ridgway on Thursday June 6th to meet the new Tri-State CEO Duane Highley and ask him some important questions like:

1. How will Tri-State divest itself from its many coal resources to make the transition to clean energy?

2. Two new Colorado laws (SB 236, the PUC sunset bill and HB 1261, the just transition bill) now require that Tri-State transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. How will Tri-State make this transition?

3. And while Tri-State is ramping down the Nucla Coal Plant and the nearby coal mine and will soon close both, what can Tri-State do to help the west end of Montrose and San Miguel County (in SMPA territory) recover from this devastating loss of jobs?

4. Is Tri-State looking at investing in significant solar power in Nucla — which is right on the Tri-State grid — to provide jobs and economic stimulus, along with renewable energy in this sunny area of the state?

Please come to the SMPA annual meeting and join the Carbon Neutral Coalition and get involved in the efforts to make our region Carbon Neutral. We can make it happen but we must have the support of our power utility company.