LPEA announces PURPA findings and final determination

Following public hearings and required review of the three standards laid out by the Public Utilities Regulation Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), the La Plata Electric Association board of directors has released its findings and final determination.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, adopted by Congress, requires that LPEA and similar utility companies consider and determine new PURPA standards: 1) the inclusion of energy efficiency into integrated resource plans; 2) the alignment of electric rates with the delivery of cost-effective energy efficiency as well as the promotion of energy efficiency investments; and, 3) the daily provision of direct written or electronic access to information concerning time-based electricity prices to all customers and information regarding the sources of power used, including greenhouse gas emissions.

“LPEA is required by law to hold the PURPA hearings, even though we are already addressing the standards,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “As a member-owned cooperative, we always want to give members the opportunity to participate in the process as desired, and discover how much is involved with keeping the lights turned on.”

The board of directors reviewed and considered all exhibits on record and made the following determinations:

1. Integrated Resource Planning — PURPA requires each electric utility to integrate energy efficiency into its plans, and adopt policies establishing cost-effective energy efficiency as a priority resource. LPEA currently meets this standard and relies on Tri-State for an Integrated Resource Plan.

2. Rate Design Modifications to Promote Energy Efficiency Investments — PURPA requires that rates charged by any electric utility shall align utility incentives with the delivery of cost-effective energy efficiency, and promote energy efficiency investments. LPEA has developed and implemented an energy education and training program for students, businesses and general public with an active rebate program for CFL change outs and/or new installations. LPEA has also implemented demand side management and energy audit programs for governmental agencies as well as commercial and industrial customers. Further, LPEA staff has begun discussions, review and consideration of different rate designs that will promote energy efficiency, but are not discriminatory, and which shall be fully researched in 2009.

3. Information Time-based Rates — PURPA requires electricity providers to provide direct access, in written or electronic machine-readable form as appropriate, information concerning time-based electricity prices in the wholesale electricity market, along with retail prices or rates that are available to purchasers. Further, purchasers shall be provided information on the sources of power provided by LPEA, including the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each type of generation for intervals during which such information is available on a cost-effective basis. LPEA does not directly own or control any generation resources. Further, the Board of Directors at LPEA has developed a position paper and supports Tri-State in its efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Going forward, LPEA will continue to explore ways to make the programs, over which it has control, effectively and equitably serve the needs of its members, and continue to encourage Tri-State in its effort as well.

The public hearings pursuant to PURPA were held Oct. 15 in Durango. Final board of directors determination was made Nov. 19.

A complete copy of the final determination, legislative language relevant to the PURPA standards, along with public, LPEA and Tri-State testimonies, is posted on LPEA’s Web site at www.lpea.coop. Any LPEA customer not able to access this Web site and who desires a copy of the findings should contact LPEA at 247-5786, by mail at P.O. Box 2750, Durango, Colorado 81302, or e-mail at purpa@lpea.coop, and a copy will be provided at cost.