Skip to main navigation.

Current News

10/8/20: San Miguel Power Association Rates for Electricity to Remain Unchanged in 2021

At their October Board Meeting, the Board of Directors of San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) approved a budget for 2021 that avoids a rate increase on the consumer-members. “Our board stated clearly and unanimously that, given the strained economic conditions of our communities, this was not the time for a rate increase,” stated Board President, Rube Felicelli.

This will be welcome news for rate-payers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant revenue and job losses. The good news, however, does come at a cost. “The original 2021 budget proposed a $500,000 draw on the $1.2 million of deferred revenue,” said SMPA CEO, Brad Zaporski. This left a projected need of about $200,000. “Because of previous financial planning, we have been able to pull these necessary funds from deferred revenues instead of from increased rates,” said Zaporski. The Board opted to draw the extra from deferred revenue for a combined draw of about $700,000.

The Board’s decision was not made lightly, given staff projections of increased costs for planned reliability projects and vegetation management. With projected costs climbing sharply, for the recently-announced Red Mountain Reliability and Broadband Improvement Project, the Board was reminded that, while these improvements may be vital, they don’t directly bring in revenue to cover costs. This upward pressure is still likely to be felt in the so-called “Access Charge,” or the fixed portion of the power bill. This charge remains the lowest of any neighboring cooperatives in the region. SMPA members are reminded to expect this charge to increase in the future—but not this year.

In the background, SMPA is continuing to review proposals from power suppliers which could lead to replacing SMPA’s current wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State). Tri-State has announced plans to reduce wholesale electric rates by as much as 8% by 2023. This would be a welcome relief to current cooperative members like SMPA.

Concerning the 2021 budget, many board members expressed confidence. “The staff of SMPA has a great track record of maintaining tight margins and sticking close to their budget,” remarked one board member as the board decided not to delay approval until November. “We’re going to get there,” remarked President Felicelli. “Even with the difficulties of this past year, our people will continue to make improvements that ultimately benefit the members.”

 

10/8/20: San Miguel Power Announces Sharing Success Economic Development Grants

DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 11, 2020

San Miguel Power Association Inc., in conjunction with its national cooperative partner, CoBank, seeks funding opportunities that stimulate and enhance our local economies. In order to financially support projects, programs and organizations that are actively working to improve the financial stability of local businesses, expand entrepreneurial opportunities and bring revenue to our towns and counties, SMPA awards grants to selected applicants.

This year’s total Fund is $20,000. It is made up of equal matches from SMPA and CoBank. Member organizations and businesses may apply for an amount up to the total $20,000 (rounded to the nearest $500) depending on the costs of their initiatives. Initiatives may vary in size and scope but should aim to benefit the entire business community of a region, not just individual businesses. We expect multiple applicants.

The following definition of economic development will be used by SMPA Board of directors for evaluation of all proposals:

Economic development is the development of economic wealth of regions or communities for the well-being of their inhabitants. From a policy perspective, economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Qualifying projects should:

  • Stimulate job creation in our area
  • Promote economic growth
  • Create/improve local commerce
  • Maintain/strengthen existing businesses
  • Enhance regional prosperity
  • Offer sustainable progress; set the stage for economic development in the long run
  • Build collaboration
  • Show of our communities’ attributes
  • Demonstrate ability to leverage funds

The online application for Sharing Success grants can be found at: www.smpa.com/content/sharing-success-economic-development-grants The application deadline is November 11, 2020.

 

10/6/20: SMPA Board Publishes New Strategic Objectives"

“Our democratic governance depends upon our Board representatives bringing their individual and regional concerns and perspectives to the table…” said Rube Felicelli, Board President of San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), commenting on the Board’s recent update of the cooperative’s strategic objectives. “We’re fortunate to have a group who can do that while respecting each other and committing to the best interests of the whole cooperative and its members.”

The two-day planning session took place in mid-July 2020. The representatives met in person, with state-dictated gathering limitations, masking and social-distancing precautions in place. Working with a consultant, they reviewed the cooperative's strategic direction in a variety of fields.

The last strategic planning session was in 2017, and regular updates are scheduled every three years. “I think our Board found great value in the opportunity to review our strategic direction,” Felicelli remarked.

With the objectives officially adopted, SMPA staff, will now break each one down into component initiatives. They will designate project timelines and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based upon industry experience and established best practices. Key staff will then give progress reports to the board every three months. “This time tested process is a way for our Board to connect with the staff, who will be responsible for carrying out the strategic direction that the Board sets,” said CEO, Brad Zaporski. “It is a privilege to manage this process. SMPA’s staff and Board are some of the best in the business, and we have been very successful at marrying the Board’s Strategic Vision with the determination and hard work of our staff in order to best support the communities that we serve.”

With the announcement of the below SMPA Strategic Objectives, the staff now has their marching orders for the next three years. “We’re looking forward to getting to work,” says Zaporski. “Of course, we also invite the member-consumers to hear our progress at our monthly Board Meetings.” Details on how to join these meetings are available at www.smpa.com/content/board-meeting-schedule.

SMPA Strategic Objectives:

Reliability and Resiliency

Strategic Objective: Identify and prioritize reliability and resiliency risks and issues. Initial focus shall be on fire mitigation.

Financial/Power Supply/Rates

Strategic Objective: Determine the optimal long-term power supply strategy that best achieves safe, reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible service to our members.

Safety/Culture/People

Strategic Objective: Continue to improve SMPA’s overall safety and work culture.

Technology

Strategic Objective: Fully optimize all technology.

COVID19 & Crisis Management

Strategic Objective: Further develop a Crisis Management Plan in order to best respond to external threats or crises.

 

 

9/2/20: SMPA Addresses COVID-19, Power Supply, Infrastructure in "Message to Members"

“The New Reality’ is a phrase we’ve been hearing a lot these days,” says San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board President, Rube Felicelli. It refers to a myriad of changes the rural electric cooperative has undergone in the last several months.

One major change was the cancellation of SMPA’s Annual Meeting. This in-person event has been a staple of the co-op’s outreach to its consumers for the majority of its eighty-year history. Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the SMPA Board of Directors determined that cancelling would be best for the safety of staff and consumers alike. “Still,” says Felicelli, “…we consider it vital to communicate to our members as we navigate a fragile economy, a rapidly changing industry, and unprecedented conditions--many of which are related to the global pandemic.”

To this end, SMPA has released its Annual Report with a new element: The printed “Message to Members” has been interpreted as a dynamic video that covers topics that would have been addressed at the Annual Meeting. “Like every year, we share important messages in our printed and online Annual Report (available at www.smpa.com),” says Alex Shelley, SMPA’s Communications Executive. “But this year, we felt we needed to do something extra to make up for the fact that members (consumers) couldn’t see our faces, like they would at an Annual meeting.”

The solution was a 6-minute, 21 second video, hosted on SMPA’s YouTube Channel (accessible from www.smpa.com). In the video, Felicelli and SMPA CEO, Brad Zaporski address the consumers on a variety of topics including the below:

COVID-19 and Pandemic Response:

“At the end of 2019, few were thinking that a global pandemic would threaten and transform our lives as it has over the past few months,” said Zaporski. “Yet, SMPA was prepared. When the coronavirus arrived, we had an infectious disease response plan to guide our immediate actions.” These actions included temporarily closing offices, separating work crews, and implementing new payment procedures.

SMPA Power Supply:

Those following the electric industry will know that major changes are under way. Recently, Colorado state legislation dictated that statewide greenhouse gas emissions were to be reduced by 26% in 2025, by 50% in 2030, and by 90% in 2050. This has had transformative effects on SMPA’s wholesale power provider.

At least two years before the state mandate, SMPA was considering its power supply options.

“From time to time, our mission… demands that we evaluate our current course against other potentials,” says Felicelli. “With this in mind, our board has determined that we need to understand the full value, and options, of our membership and contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission [SMPA’s wholesale power provider]. We also need to further explore all power supply options to see if there is better way.” To accomplish this, SMPA has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to potential power suppliers. The review process is currently underway. At their August 25th regular board meeting, the SMPA board of directors made preparations for a September 15th meeting, to be held in executive session, to consider proposals made in response to the power supply RFP. This meeting is part of the careful analysis the Board must carry out. No date has been set for a final decision.

Infrastructure and Reliability Projects:

“Although we live in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the nation, this landscape also presents us great challenges with regard to power delivery,” says Zaporski. Another SMPA Board objective has been to improve system reliability, and SMPA has undertaken several major projects to reduce the impact of power outages due to natural events like rock falls, avalanches and lightning strikes.

“There’s no greater example of challenged infrastructure than the power line that traverses Red Mountain,” continues Zaporski, announcing the “Red Mountain Electrical Reliability and Broadband Improvement Project.” This ambitious project aims to re-build a power delivery line that crosses the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre National Forest, the San Juan National Forest as well other private lands in the mountainous region. “This line serves as a backup feed for the communities of Ouray County. As the communities have been growing, we have known that we would eventually have to re-build it using modern materials and up-to-date design. Well,” says Zaporski, “…the time has come.”

The video, entitled “The New Reality” is, a solution, unique to the cooperative’s current situation. “Although the channel may be different, the outreach is the same, says Shelley. “We’re a democratic organization; reaching out to our members is a necessary part of our model. If a virus comes along and threatens that, we have to adapt… and we have.”

View “The New Reality” and read the SMPA Annual Report at www.smpa.com.

 

4/29/20: SMPA Board Candidates Announced / SMPA Annual Meeting Cancelled

At the April 28th San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board Meeting, the candidates for the upcoming SMPA board election were announced. In district #1, which includes Parts of Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray and Dolores Counties including Basin, Bedrock, Naturita, Nucla, Paradox, Redvale, Slick Rock, candidate, and sitting board member, Doylene Garvey will be running unopposed and will be deemed re-elected per SMPA bylaws.

In District #4, which includes Parts of Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel Counties including Colona and a portions of Log Hill Village and Telluride, candidate, Tobin Brown is also running unopposed and will be deemed elected per SMPA bylaws.

Anyone who purchases power from SMPA and resides within the SMPA service territory is a member. SMPA Board Directors are members who are nominated by the membership of their Board District. Because neither of this year’s elections are contested, no ballots will be mailed to members this year.

Board election results are usually announced at the Annual Meeting of members. However, due to restrictions associated with the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the SMPA Annual Meeting has been cancelled. An Annual Report containing financial and operational updates will be published in June for interested members.

 

 

3/26/20: SMPA Offices Closed to the Public Until Further Notice in Order to Help Ensure Reliable Electric Service

This is a notice to all consumers of San Miguel Power Association: For safety and security and to continue providing safe, reliable electricity, San Miguel Power Association has closed its offices to the public util further notice. To pay your bill or access your account, please use our automated phone system at (970) 864-7311; then press 2. Or, log on to smpa.smarthub.coop for a variety of account services. We thank you for your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience.

 

3/16/20: SMPA Offices Closed to the Public Until March 30th in Order to Help Ensure Reliable Electric Service

SMPA has been monitoring recent events associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  Based upon the best available information, our Crisis Response Team has determined that it is necessary for us to close our offices to the public for a limited period.
 

We are proactively instituting an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan. At this stage of the plan, only office closures and social distancing procedures are in effect. We are still available over the phone during regular business hours and we are still providing all normal services.

We are also strongly encouraging our members to pay their bills and manage their accounts remotely. To pay your bill or access your account, please use our automated phone system (970) 626-5549, or (970) 864-7311 then press 2 - or log in to SmartHub for a variety of account services at https://smpa.smarthub.coop/Login.html. You can also download the SmartHub app on your mobile device. If you need help with this or any other service, please call one of the above numbers during regular business hours.

To learn more about our proactive Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan, please read this letter from our CEO:

Valued Members:

At San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), we have the privilege and responsibility of providing a critical public service to the people and communities that we serve. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously.

Rest assured that SMPA has proactively prepared an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for a pandemic such as COVID-19 (Coronavirus). In executing this ERP we are helping to ensure the safety of the public and our staff without negative impacts to the economy or the services that we provide. But, we need your help.

If you come across our crews or staff out in the field please understand that we have instituted a strict policy of social distancing. Whether you are a contractor, a member consumer, or from the general public we ask that you maintain a minimum approach distance of six feet from all SMPA personnel. If this is not achievable, we may not be able to provide services at that location.

Although our offices are currently closed to the public, SMPA is open for business. We have our staff working remotely wherever possible and can still accommodate your requests without face to face interaction, both online and through our phone system. Please refrain from attempting to pay your bill in person, instead use remote pay and account management tools such as SmartHub or our automated phone system at970-864-7311option 2.

We understand how this pandemic is already affecting our local economy and we are here to help. Therefore, if you are having trouble paying your bill please give us a call and we will set up a plan that works for you.

With the recent federal recommendation of no public gatherings exceeding 10 people, SMPA Board meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future. Yet, we do not want to limit or discourage member participation. If you would like to participate in our Board meetings, or provide member comment, please call our offices during regularly scheduled business hours to speak with a representative to learn how to participate.970-864-7311option 0.

Lastly, we want to reiterate that SMPA is prepared and equipped to deal with this situation and we ask for your cooperation as we continue taking necessary steps and precautions to provide essential electric services.

Sincerely,

Brad Zaporski
CEO - SMPA

 

 

1/16/20: Tri-State Announces 90% Reduction in Colorado Carbon by 2030

SMPA Remains Supportive of Tri-State Responsible Energy Plan - Calls for Support to Coal Communities
 

Early this January, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State), wholesale electric power provider for local electric cooperative, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) announced closure of Escalante Coal Generation Station near Prewitt, N.M., by end of 2020, and closure of the northwest Colorado Craig Station and Colowyo Mine by 2030.

These Major changes in generation portfolio will result in 100% reduction of coal emissions in Colorado and New Mexico. Tri-State claims it will be able to do this while increasing Tri-State’s competitiveness with cleaner portfolio, and while maintaining stable rates for its member systems.

Collectively, the closure will impact approximately 600 power plant and mine employees, who have been integral to Tri-State’s ability to supply reliable power to cooperatives for decades.

" We are very supportive of Tri-State's Responsible Energy Plan,” says SMPA CEO, Brad Zaporski. “yet we also understand very personally, the effect that these types of closures have on employees' families and their local communities.

Zaporski refers to the effects of the closure of the Nucla Generation Station, announced by Tri-State in July of 2019. Nucla, where SMPA is headquartered, has struggled to recover its economy following the job losses resulting from the closure of the generating station and the nearby Horizon coal mine.

Tri-State has pledged to work with state and local officials to support affected employees and their communities during the transition. “Our focus is on making these changes with the care and respect our employees and their communities deserve – easing the transition whenever and wherever possible,” said Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Tri-State. “Working together, we can meet the state’s clean energy goals while preserving affordable, reliable and responsible energy for rural Colorado.”

 

11/07/19: San Miguel Power Proposes a Rate Change in 2020
 

San Miguel Power Association, Inc. (SMPA) announced today, it proposes to increase the access charge on members’ bills. The increase will amount to $1 per month or $12 per year above the current charge for the majority of SMPA members. The updated fee is proposed to take effect January 1, 2020. Consumers will make their first payments of the new fee in February.

SMPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Brad Zaporski explained. “We have embarked on several large construction projects, throughout our system, to improve system reliability and to replace aging equipment and infrastructure. Because these projects are fixed costs and are not related to the amount of energy we sell, it is appropriate to recover these costs through the access charge and not through the energy charge.”

In-depth rate analyses have revealed that SMPA’s current access charge is well below what it should be to cover fixed costs that are not associated with the amount of energy that SMPA sells. Therefore, consumers should expect that necessary future rate increases will be in the access fee. “The board has favored an incremental approach to raising the access fee and is very sensitive to making sure that we do not over collect. As a not-for profit utility, there is no incentive to over collect on rates as this only creates a liability that we must pay back to the membership in the future,” said Zaporski.

One of the major improvements to which Zaporski referred is the proposed Red Mountain Line Rebuild. This project will replace a power transmission line—some parts of which are over 100 years old—in extremely rugged and treacherous terrain. The current line crosses Red Mountain Pass and serves Ridgway, Ouray, and surrounding parts of Ouray County, which is the fastest-growing county in SMPA’s service territory. In addition to its age, this line sustained considerable damage in this year’s historic avalanche cycle.

As a compliment to its focus on infrastructure that will improve service reliability, SMPA takes a comprehensive approach to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency and the use of local renewable energy. How does this relate to the proposed rate change? In the past, members have questioned if raising the fixed access fee, rather than the energy rate, disincentivizes energy efficiency. “Many energy efficiency and roof-top solar projects that we have worked on with our members are influenced by a payback analysis,” stated Wiley Freeman, SMPA Member Services Manager, “There is no doubt that increasing our access charge is less favorable to the economics of that kind of analysis, but our experience has shown us that economics isn’t the only ingredient for success in these projects.” According to Freeman, the payback isn’t always what makes or breaks a project. “Tackling up-front costs, choosing the right technology, getting educated about the available options, and navigating regulations is where we have seen the biggest progress on efficiency, conservation and renewables,” Freeman explained. “We have to strike a balance,” said Freeman, “and that is why we take a comprehensive look at our programs and how our members are impacted by rates.”

Before the SMPA Board of Directors votes on the proposal, they are seeking comments from the members of SMPA. Two rate hearings have been scheduled, the first will take place before the regular Board Meeting on November 19th, 2019 at the SMPA Office in Nucla (170 W. 10th Ave.), and the second will be before the December 18th, 2019 meeting at the SMPA Office in Ridgway (720 N. Railroad St.). Both hearings begin at 9:00 AM. Consumers are encouraged to attend one or both of these meetings, to ask questions, share opinions and help Board members make the most informed decision possible. Members may also submit written comments or questions to rates@smpa.com.

 

8/21/19: SMPA, CoBank Seek Proposals for Grant Funding of Local Economic Development
 

San Miguel Power Association Inc., in conjunction with its national cooperative partner, CoBank, is again seeking proposals for funding opportunities that stimulate and enhance our local economies.  In order to financially support projects, programs and organizations that are actively working to improve the financial stability of local businesses, expand entrepreneurial opportunities and bring revenue to our towns and counties, SMPA will be awarding grants to selected applicants.

Member organizations and businesses may apply for up to $10,000 in $1,000 increments depending on the costs of their initiatives.  Initiatives may vary in size and scope but should aim to benefit the entire business community of a region, not just individual businesses.

The following definition of economic development will be used by the SMPA Board of directors for evaluation of all proposals:

Economic development is the development of economic wealth of regions or communities for the well-being of their inhabitants.  From a policy perspective, economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Interested parties should complete the application available at www.smpa.com>>Community Programs>>Sharing Success Grants.  Supporting documentation such as cover letters, proposal text or action plans may be appended.

Qualifying projects should:

-           Stimulate job creation in our area

-           Promote economic growth

-           Create/improve local commerce

-           Maintain/strengthen existing businesses

-           Enhance regional prosperity

-           Offer sustainable progress; set the stage for economic development in the long run

-           Build collaboration

-           Show off our communities attributes

-           Demonstrate ability to leverage funds

Deadline for applications will be October 17, 2019 please mail or drop off your applications to a San Miguel Power Office in either in Nucla or Ridgway or mail to San Miguel Power C/O Paul Hora, PO Box 1150, Ridgway, CO 81432.

San Miguel Power Association, Inc. is a member-owned, locally-controlled rural electric cooperative with offices in Nucla and Ridgway, Colo. It is the mission of San Miguel Power Association to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service. SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 13,300 meters and supports local communities with $300,000 annually in property taxes and $400,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy rebates. SMPA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

 

7/2/19: SMPA Asks Tri-State to allow More Time on FERC Regulation
 

* Tri-State, which is not currently regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has announced plans to introduce a new class of membership, which would cause it to fall under FERC jurisdiction.  With the following letter, SMPA is requesting that Tri-State take more time to consider the move before taking action:

July 1, 2019

Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assn.
Attn: Rick Gordon, Duane Highley and Scott Wolfe
1100 West 116th Ave.
Westminster, CO 80234

Dear Rick Gordon, Duane Highley and Scott Wolfe:

We are writing to you on the issue of Tri-State becoming rate regulated under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC. We respectfully ask Tri-State to be methodical and to allow adequate time for a more complete understanding of this process by the membership. The reason for this request is twofold; First, it is counterproductive and out of sequence for Tri-State to introduce a new class of membership without first engaging the contract committee and receiving the benefit of the recommendations it produces. We believe it is imperative for the committee to have a full understanding of the value, impact and need for this new membership, before any board action. We assert that the committee should be provided an opportunity to make recommendations to the board regarding any new class of membership prior to any being created.

Second, there is benefit to providing a more in-depth analysis of the reasons for, and ramifications of becoming FERC regulated. This can be partially achieved by providing memorialized responses to the questions already asked at the committee and through other channels. We request that you allow time for further questions and answers regarding the purpose, process and anticipated impact to the membership. Your attention and consideration towards these requests are greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,

Brad Zaporski
San Miguel Power Association
General Manager / CEO
(970) 626-5549

Read the signed letter.

 

6/1/18: Telluride Sports Makes 100 Percent Commitment to San Miguel Power Association’s Green Blocks Program
 

* All 11 Vail Resorts Retail locations in Telluride including five Telluride Sports stores, Telluride Sports Ski Tune Center, San Miguel Angler, Neve, Patagonia, Burton, and The North Face will participate in the San Miguel Power Association Green Block Energy Program *The 100 percent purchase of renewable energy credits will support the Vail Resorts’ “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” *All stores have converted to LED light bulbs to reduce overall energy usage, offset Green Block costs, and reduce landfill waste.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – June 4, 2018 – In a recently signed agreement, all 11 shops in the Vail Resorts Retail/Telluride Sports family are joining the San Miguel Power Association’s (SMPA) Green Blocks program that allows participants to purchase renewable energy credits.

How it works: Electricity generated by renewable resources is placed on the same grid as traditional electricity. The purchase of Green Blocks guarantees that the renewable energy being purchased is actually generated from a renewable source and placed on the grid. One credit, or Green Block, costs $1.00 per block, per month and each block represents 100 kilowatt hours of renewable energy. Buying one Green Block is equivalent to not driving a car for 1,800 miles or planting a half-acre of trees.

The amount of energy usage varies by location, so each Telluride Sports store will be purchasing the number of blocks needed to offset their total monthly energy consumption. If a store uses 800 kilowatt hours per month, they will purchase eight blocks. Telluride Sports is initially purchasing 2,880 Green Blocks for their 11 participating locations.

Additionally, following an extensive energy use audit provided by SMPA and the local non-profit Eco Action Partners in all 11 stores, the Telluride Sports team determined that switching existing lighting to more energy efficient LED lighting would be the most effective way to decrease energy use. Based on that decision, beginning last October, the shops started replacing the older lighting and are now approximately 75 percent converted to LED. The estimated energy and utility bill savings from this retrofit is expected to cover the additional cost of purchasing the Green Blocks. Another benefit from the transition to LEDs is that the longer life of LED bulbs will result in an estimated 1,200 fewer traditional lightbulbs going into a landfill each year.

“Living and working in a spectacular setting like Telluride makes all of our employees keenly aware of the importance of becoming as energy efficient as possible because we all want to preserve our fragile environment,” explains Todd Brewer, director of operations for Vail Resorts Retail western slope. “When we learned more about the Green Blocks program offered by the San Miguel Power Association, we recognized that it was a very natural way for us to start making a meaningful difference in supporting renewable energy sources,” he continued.

The program is also available to homes as well as businesses in the SMPA service area. Green Blocks may be purchased by any SMPA member to offset their energy use. The more homes and businesses that participate, the greater the impact on reducing the San Miguel region’s carbon footprint.

“When SMPA members like Telluride Sports participate, they secure the environmental benefits associated with their purchase of renewable energy,” explains Wiley Freeman, SMPA Member Services Manager. “This furthers our communities’ efforts to reduce, offset, and ultimately eliminate carbon pollution.”

Another benefit of the program is that all proceeds from the sale of Green Blocks directly supports the development of more local renewable energy such as the 200 kilowatt IQ Solar Array project built in 2017 near Norwood, Colo.

“Telluride Sports support for Green Blocks also shows a commitment for more local renewables,” concluded Freeman.

For more information about the San Miguel Green Blocks renewable energy credits, visit: http://www.smpa.com/content/green-centsgreen-blocks.

About the Vail Resorts Epic Promise Project Zero initiative: Last summer, Vail Resorts announced that the Company will aggressively pursue a comprehensive sustainability commitment, called “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint.” This ambitious undertaking, commits to zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat. The Company intends to go beyond setting a partial emissions reduction target by executing on a more expansive and ambitious plan. “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” comprises three pillars: emissions, waste, and forests and habitats, with a thoughtful approach to each that was developed in consultation with leading sustainability experts in the industry. Vail Resorts’ “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” will enable resort guests and more than 30,000 employees the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment and resources without leaving an impact.

About Vail Resorts Retail Vail Resorts Retail operates more than 220 specialty stores in and around owned and operated Vail Resorts mountain resorts and urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Wilmot, and Stowe. Shops are also located in select non-Vail Resort’s destinations in Aspen, Telluride, and Winter Park. In addition to these mountain resort locations, Vail Resorts Retail also operates in Colorado’s Front Range, Northern California and Minneapolis. These stores focus primarily in winter recreation of ski and snowboard for both retail and rental but also offer gear and services for a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, camping, biking and more.

About San Miguel Power Association It is the Mission of San Miguel Power Association, Inc. to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members with safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service.

2/9/18: SMPA Charts Pathway Toward More Local Renewable Energy, increased Reliability, and Affordability
 

The San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of Directors has unanimously adopted a resolution confirming that SMPA’s continued membership in the wholesale power cooperative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State) is “…the best path to implementing more local renewable energy… without incurring strong upward rate pressures… compromising reliability, or the network communications crucial to the overall operations of the SMPA distribution grid.”  The resolution also states that SMPA “…will not further pursue alternatives to the current Wholesale Electric Services Contract (WESC) with Tri-state, at this time…”  This resolution signals the fulfillment of one of SMPA’s seven 2017 strategic objectives, which is to “Understand the full value, and options, of [SMPA’s] membership and contract with Tri-State G&T, while developing an all-encompassing program to expand local renewables.”

The year-old strategic objective, was designed amidst rapidly dropping prices of renewable energy such as utility-scale wind and solar in power markets across the nation.  The low prices had caught the attention of many, who began to question the value of the SMPA / Tri-State contract which requires that SMPA purchase no less than 95% of its power from Tri-State through 2050.  Tri-State has been aggressively procuring energy from renewable sources over the past several years and has recently reported that 30% of the energy consumed by its membership is now from sources other than fossil fuels.

Opponents have suggested that SMPA might follow the example of Kit Carson Electric, a New Mexico electric cooperative that recently bought out of its Tri-State contract, and Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) who also may be pursuing alternatives to its contract with Tri-State.  “As our recent resolution states, we will continue to monitor the situation at both cooperatives to better inform ourselves on this issue.  However, there are several major factors in an issue like this which must be taken into consideration and are specific to each individual cooperative.  Therefore, while we can gain knowledge from the actions of others, it would be a mistake to think one can apply what happens at another co-op directly to SMPA,” said SMPA CEO, Brad Zaporski.

Another factor mentioned in the Resolution is that Tri-State is currently working in partnership with SMPA on two of the largest reliability projects ever performed on the SMPA distribution grid.  These large, capital intensive, construction projects are known as the Telluride/Mountain Village Reliability Project, which is providing a robust, underground backup line to SMPA’s largest load center and the Ridgway/Ouray Reliability Project or Red Mountain Pass Rebuild.  This will be a true feat of engineering over some of the most difficult topography in the world, providing backup service to the fastest-growing part of SMPA’s service territory.

The SMPA / Tri-State relationship is also a crucial part of decade long project to implement fiber communications throughout the SMPA system.  This allows significant improvements to network communications and enables the ability to operate crucial equipment throughout the SMPA grid.  This may also accommodate commercial traffic, or retail broadband, at some point in the future.  “The fiber communications system we have been working on for the past ten years is highly dependent on our ability to use Tri-State fiber.   This system will only become more important to operating the grid of the future which will be more decentralized with much higher penetrations of intermittent energy from renewables, battery storage technologies, multi-directional power flows, and electric vehicles.  Many people also believe that it will be integral to the future of the local economy”, said Zaporski.

“The financial, reliability and communications concerns alone are enough to merit cooperation,” said SMPA Board President, Rube Felicelli, “but, in addition, Tri-State is supporting our access to local renewable energy.” Tri-State provides incentives that made it possible for SMPA to help develop and purchase the energy from several local renewable energy projects such as Pandora Hydro, Bridal Veil Hydro, Ouray Hydro, Coal Creek Hydro, Paradox Solar, and the Norwood income qualified (I. Q.) solar array.  SMPA also has the option to pursue Tri-State Board Policy 118 to increase local renewable energy generation.   Policy 118 was instrumental in bringing Tri-State to the table for the development of the Ridgway Reservoir Hydro, which is now the largest renewable energy facility currently operating in the SMPA service territory.

In a 2017 SMPA Board Resolution, SMPA formally requested that Tri-State partner with SMPA to construct another utility scale renewable energy generation project.   SMPA has officially entered into Policy 118 negotiations to fulfill this resolution request.

“It’s important to point out that today’s resolution, not to further pursue alternatives to SMPA’s contract with Tri-State, was met with unanimous approval,” said Felicelli.  “The members of our Board represent a vast area with a wide variety of concerns and ideals...  I am extremely proud of the work and effort our Board and staff have done in analyzing what the effects of pursuing alternatives to our contract with Tri-State would be to our membership before coming to this consensus.”

As a cooperative, SMPA relies on its democratically-elected board to chart the cooperative’s course for the ultimate benefit of the members.  In an industry that is undergoing unprecedented change, the task can’t be an easy one.

For questions, please call (970) 626-5549.  To see the Board Resolution 2018-02, Click here.

12/27/17: Board Approves Rate Increase for 2018

At its December meeting, the SMPA Board of Directors elected to implement an overall 1.2% increase in the annual revenue requirement that is required to run your cooperative. For about 90% of the nearly 13,500 accounts served by SMPA, this will result in an increase of $2 per month to the monthly access charge, with no change to the kWh energy rate. The decision came after an extensive review of the current rate structure, as well as extensive long and short term financial forecasting, costing, and budgeting.

Before the board voted, they heard from members who commented on the proposal. Many expressed their recommendation that SMPA should raise the necessary revenue through an increase to the per kWh energy charge rather than through the fixed access charge in order to further incentivize energy efficiency.

“Our board understands and appreciates this viewpoint,” said Board President, Rube Felicelli. “...and we want to continue to promote energy efficiency among our members. We have been very successful with our  energy efficiency programs, which are leading the way for SMPA to sell less energy or kWh. By putting the rate increase into the access charge, we can continue to champion energy efficiency in a way that doesn’t put the cooperative as a whole out of business.” The desire for greater financial stability seemed to drive a number of other board members, who noted that they were in favor of raising the access charge despite the fact that they, as owners of multiple meters, would see their own monthly power bills increase significantly as a result.

To further explain, CEO, Brad Zaporski showed how SMPA’s current rates recover operations and maintenance costs through the energy charge. “Bringing a better balance to the energy and access charge will improve our financial stability while taking away the economic pressure to sell ever larger quantities of energy” said Zaporski. “When we (SMPA) talk about a 1.2% increase, members should realize that we are talking about the Cooperative as a whole. It is important to know that this will have a different percentage impact to every single members’ bill, depending on which rate class you are in and how much energy is used. While the percentage will vary, it is an increase of $2 a month for the majority of our membership, and this will appear on the first bill that you receive in 2018.” If you have any questions on how you will be impacted please give us a call at 970-626-5549. It should also be noted that SMPA will still have a significantly lower access charge than any of our neighboring cooperatives.

See a complete listing of the 2018 rates here.

12/7/17: SMPA Proposes First Rate Increase in Nearly Six Years

At its November meeting, the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of Directors approved an operating and capital budget for 2018 that was based on extensive analysis of expenses and consideration that SMPA, without raising rates to the membership, had absorbed a $720,000 increase to the cost of wholesale power in early 2017.

Based on this 2018 budget as well as a detailed rate study of potential cost recovery methods, the staff has proposed an overall 1.2% rate increase for 2018.

“We are proud to say that this is the first rate increase we have had in nearly six years,” said SMPA CEO, Brad Zaporski. “The cost of basic goods and services, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has gone up 12 percent since our last rate increase. Our rates have only gone up by 1.2% in this same time period.”

 

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of inflation and is based on a monthly U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of 23,000 businesses nationwide. CPI was a factor in designing the cost recovery plan for SMPA.

“As a non-profit cooperative, our primary purpose is to provide our product--electricity--for the lowest possible cost,” said SMPA Board President, Rube Felicelli. “That’s why, when we have to raise rates, we conduct these studies--to make sure that our increase is as small as it can possibly be.”

2018 Rate Increase Proposal Summary

  • Single Phase – No Demand
    • $2 Increase to Access Charge
    • No Change to per kWh rate
  • Single Phase – Demand
    • $2 Increase to Access Charge
    • $1 Increase to Demand Charge
    • Reduced by 5.86% per kWh
  • Three Phase – Demand
    • No Change to Access
    • $1 Increase to Demand Charge
    • Reduced by 4.01%per kWh
  • Three Phase – No Demand
    • $5 Increase to Access Charge
    • No Change to per kWh rate

Overall Increase = 1.2%

The cooperative has a wide variety of costs, the largest of which is wholesale power. Yet other costs such as materials, labor, tools, and maintenance of the electrical distribution grid, play a big part in rates as well. The new rates for 2018 propose an increase to the monthly access charge. The largest group of consumers, those in the single phase rate class, will see their access charge increase by $2.00. When SMPA recovers more revenue from the fixed monthly access charge, the pressure for the cooperative to sell more energy (measured in kWhs) to meet revenue requirements is reduced. This gives Members greater flexibility in implementing energy efficiency measures and switching to more self-generation of energy without impacting the solvency and reliability of the grid.

“It’s never easy to raise rates,” said Felicelli, “but when we know we have the right information, we feel confident that our decision is necessary and appropriate for the long term health of your cooperative.”

The SMPA Board will host a rate hearing at their regular December board meeting prior to officially adopting the proposed rate change for 2018. The meeting is scheduled to be held in Nucla on December 21st at 9:30 am.

 

 

11/2017: Tri-State Issue Brief: Tri-State and Renewable Energy

 

7/24/17: SMPA, CoBank Seek Proposals for Grant Funding of Local Economic Development

San Miguel Power Association Inc., in conjunction with its national cooperative partner, CoBank, is again seeking proposals for funding opportunities that stimulate and enhance our local economies.  In order to financially support projects, programs and organizations that are actively working to improve the financial stability of local businesses, expand entrepreneurial opportunities and bring revenue to our towns and counties, SMPA will be awarding matching grants to selected applicants.

Member organizations and businesses may apply for up to $10,000 in $1,000 increments in dollar-for-dollar matching funds depending on the costs of their initiatives.  Initiatives may vary in size and scope but should aim to benefit the entire business community of a region, not just individual businesses.

The following definition of economic development will be used by SMPA Board of directors for evaluation of all proposals:

Economic development is the development of economic wealth of regions or communities for the well-being of their inhabitants.  From a policy perspective, economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

Interested parties should complete the application available by request.  Email phora@smpa.com.  Supporting documentation such as cover letters, proposal text or action plans may be appended.

Qualifying projects should:

-           Stimulate job creation in our area

-           Promote economic growth

-           Create/improve local commerce

-           Maintain/strengthen existing businesses

-           Enhance regional prosperity

-           Offer sustainable progress; set the stage for economic development in the long run

-           Build collaboration

-           Show of our communities attributes

-           Demonstrate ability to leverage funds

The deadline for applications will be October 16, 2017.  Please mail or drop off your applications to a San Miguel Power Office in either in Nucla or Ridgway or mail to San Miguel Power C/O Paul Hora, PO Box 1150, Ridgway, CO 81432.

6/12/17: SMPA Election: Felicelli, Rhoades Elected

On June 8th, San Miguel Power Association held its 78th Annual Meeting at its office in Ridgway, CO.  The meeting concluded with the reading of election results for its District No. 5 and District No. 7 board director elections.

In District No. 5, challenger, Joseph Shults received 85 votes while incumbent, Rube Felicelli received 156. Felicelli was declared the winner and will resume his directorship for another four-year term.

In District No. 7, challenger, Dawn Glanc received 111 votes, while incumbent, Terry Rhoades received 269.  Rhoades will continue as the District No. 7 board representative.

5/17/17: SMPA Seeks Tri-State Policy Change on Local Generation

At its April 25th Board meeting, the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of directors agreed to present wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State) with two requests designed to help increase opportunities for local, renewable electric generation projects within the SMPA service territory which includes the area from Silverton to Colona and as far west as the Paradox Valley.

The letter will include two SMPA board resolutions to be approved at the next board meeting on May 23.  First, SMPA will echo a recent La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) request that Tri-State increase the allowable amount of member self-generation under the Wholesale Electric Service Contract from 5% to 10%.  This would allow LPEA, SMPA and other similarly positioned cooperatives to continue the expansion of so called “distributed generation” facilities under the current contract. 

If Tri-State were to deny this request, new facilities on SMPA’s grid that push SMPA’s local generation beyond 5% of its total load would not be covered under this contract, but that doesn’t mean that they could not come online.  A recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling upheld that distribution cooperatives, like SMPA are required by federal law to connect generation facilities that qualify under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), but details on how Tri-State might react are still unclear.

With SMPA’s request that Tri-State increase its contractual limit on local generation, the cooperative may not have to worry about the federal law for a while, allowing time for precedents to be set while the cooperative’s local, renewable generation portfolio continues to grow. 

SMPA Board president, Rube Felicelli recalls that this is not the first time SMPA has made a request of this nature to Tri-State.  “We did the same thing several years ago,” says Felicelli. “This says to Tri-State that we want to do more, and we want you to raise the cap on local renewables.”

The second request will also support the idea of adding renewables to the energy mix, but it will also include a proposition to assist communities hit hard by the recent announcement that Tri-State would be closing the power plant and associated coal mine in Nucla, where SMPA is headquartered. 

SMPA’s request will encourage Tri-State to set the objective of constructing a distributed generation project of a capacity in the 5MW to 30 MW range in the west end of the SMPA service territory.  In addition to the economic mitigation for the communities of the West End, there are other factors favoring a potential utility-scale facility in the region.  As stated in the request, “The area is rich with potential for utility-scale renewable generation including solar and hydroelectric opportunities; and transmission infrastructure is already in place which may reduce the overall project cost.”

With the formal requests of two of its member cooperatives in hand, Tri-State will need to respond.  With a service territory that covers significant parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico, Tri-State must balance the desires of a wide variety of interests within its 43 member systems, while ensuring safe, reliable and affordable service to each.  It remains to be seen what their response will be, but as the SMPA request will state, “We are certain that this kind of resolution can be found, and we are committed to finding it.”

 

4/25/17: 2017 SMPA Board Candidates Announced

At the April 25th San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board Meeting, the candidates for the upcoming SMPA board election were announced.  In district #5, which includes Mountain Village and Ophir, the candidates are Joseph Shults and Rube Felicelli.  In District #7, which includes Silverton and Ouray, the candidates are Dawn Glanc, Deedra Williams and Terry Rhoades.

Anyone who purchases power from SMPA and resides within the SMPA service territory is a member.  SMPA Board members are elected from the membership, by the membership. They are chosen from seven different districts within the territory. Each district contains approximately 1,300 members who vote only for their own district representative. SMPA's board members serve four-year terms.  View the director district map at www.smpa.com --> About Us --> Board of Directors.

San Miguel Power members elect their board of directors by secret mail-in ballot or at the Annual Meeting of the Membership, held this year at the SMPA Ridgway office (720 N. Railroad St., Ridgway) on June 8th from 4:30 - 6:30 pm. (Polls close at 5:30 pm.)  Ballots will be mailed to members of districts #5 and #7 on May 15th.  Mail-in ballots must be received by June 7th, or members may vote at the Annual Meeting.

San Miguel Power's Annual Meeting is one of the most important events for all SMPA members to attend. It is an opportunity for members of the cooperative to gather and review the activities of the association over the past year. The theme of this year's meeting is “The Challenge of Change,” and at the meeting, members can learn about new SMPA programs that are responding to member desires and the changing electric industry. Members will also be given dinner and a $10.00 bill credit for their attendance.  Other exhibits, games and prizes will also be there. Board Election results will be announced at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting.

 

4/11/17: Telluride / Mountain Village Reliability Project Begins

Board to Restructure Rates to Promote Long-Term Vision

To improve service reliability in the area, San Miguel Power Association is building a redundant underground power line.  This construction will help protect the electric service grid from events such as the rock fall that shut off power in Telluride and Mountain Village over President’s Day weekend last year.  The work will cause delays and intermittent closures on Ilium Road and the Galloping Goose trail from the 2nd week of April until mid-October.  The road and trail will be open on weekends and during major festivals.

Details about road and trail closures will be determined as work progresses.  Work is beginning as of April 10. 

  • Motorists should watch for lane closures on Ilium Road by the end of this week.
  • There may be temporary road closures on Ilium starting mid next week (April 19th). 
  • Trail work will begin in mid-late May.

The latest dates and details are available at http://www.smpa.com/content/tmv-reliability.  Call (970) 626-5549 ext. 212 to ask questions.

1/30/17: The Story Behind the Switch
 

Isn't it amazing that when you flip a light switch you instantly have light?  Behind that switch, there's a whole story waiting to be told.  Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State) and San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) are two not-for-profit electric cooperatives that want to tell that story to help local students understand and respect electricity.

On Friday, January 27th, the two cooperatives got their chance at Ridgway Elementary School.  “The timing was perfect!” said Ridgway 4th grade teacher, Krista Javoronok.  “We’re teaching a unit on sources of energy and electrical circuits.  Also, the kids are still excited from the live electricity demonstration that SMPA brought to us last week.”  The SMPA “Hot Line Safety Demonstration” includes a live power line that displays how electricity can arc through the air to reach a grounded source.  The primary message is one of safety.

The purpose of Friday’s demonstration, entitled “The Story Behind the Switch,” was to enhance students’ understanding of where electricity comes from and how it comes to power the modern lives to which we are all accustomed.  “I absolutely love bringing the presentation to the schools,” said Tri-State Senior Education Program Advisor, Michelle Pastor, who traveled from Denver to deliver the presentation.  “Our industry is constantly in need of fresh talent and new perspectives.  When students see the presentation, they immediately start asking questions.  That’s what makes it all worth it.”

“The Story Behind the Switch” is a professionally crafted, integrated lesson that employs cool gadgets like the colorful plasma ball and the hair-raising (literally) Van de Graff machine to engage students and explain the often-overlooked electric power grid, and the industry that keeps it running.

“We’re really appreciative of San Miguel Power and Tri-State for bringing these lessons to our kids,” said Javoronok “When professionals come in from the outside, I think it really shows the kids how important these topics are in the world beyond their classroom.”

11/29/16: No Rate Increase in 2017!

Board to Restructure Rates to Promote Long-Term Vision

In a landscape of rising energy costs, the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of Directors has announced that it will not need to collect more revenue from its members in 2017.  Earlier in 2016, SMPA received notice that its wholesale rates were going to go up.  “That was no surprise,” said SMPA General Manager and CEO, Brad Zaporski.  “We knew we needed to look at our budget to see how much of the increase we could absorb before passing it on to our members.”  

Under Zaporski’s direction, SMPA managers scrutinized the proposed 2017 budget to find ways to protect members from the wholesale increase.  “We went through the budget line by line,” said Zaporski.  “We ultimately found that we could absorb the entire 4.2% increase without having to pass on any increase to the members.”
But the discussion of rates also brought up another issue that has been on the minds of SMPA Board and staff members for a number of years.  

Like most other co-ops, the San Miguel Power monthly bill is composed of two separate charges: The Access charge, which is a fixed amount that every member pays, regardless of their energy use, and an Energy Rate which is the price per kiloWatt-hour (kWh) of energy used.

A comparison of SMPA’s access charge and energy rate to those of some of the neighboring co-ops reveals that SMPA’s energy rate is one of the highest, while its access charge is extremely low.  “That puts us in the position of having to sell a lot of energy in order to make our revenue requirements,” said Zaporski.  “It’s a relatively risky position, from a business standpoint, and it creates a disincentive for us to help our members in their efforts to be energy-efficient.  That runs counter to our mission and—really—everything we are as a cooperative.”

Before the SMPA Board of Directors held their monthly meeting, in Ridgway on November 29, they listened to members at a formal Rate Hearing.  Taking these and other comments into consideration, the Board adopted a new rate structure that re-balances the ratio of revenues collected from access charges and energy rates.  This move will not only cover the increased costs of wholesale power and improve the financial stability of the cooperative, but it does so in a “revenue-neutral” way, thereby protecting the members from increased costs next year.

 

11/14/16: SMPA to Hold Rate Hearing on Proposed 2017 Rate Structure

On November 29, the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of Directors will hold their monthly meeting, in Ridgway, at which it is expected that they will decide whether to adopt a proposed rate structure for 2017.  Earlier this year, SMPA received notice that its wholesale power rate would increase by 4.2%.  Since then, the SMPA Board has been considering recommendations on how to cover the increased revenue requirement while re-balancing SMPA’s member access charge and energy rate.  Both of these considerations are included in the proposal.  Overall, this proposal would draw no more revenue from the membership than what was drawn in 2016.

As a member-owned cooperative, SMPA values the input of its consumers.  The board of directors invites members to attend a special rate hearing before their board meeting on the 29th at 9:30 AM at the SMPA office in Ridgway.  Members interested in attending the hearing are encouraged to RSVP at 970-626-5549.  Members may also view a comparison between the current and proposed rate structures at 2017 Proposed Rate Structure.

 

 

10/10/16: SMPA to Hold Public Informational Meetings on Wholesale Power Rate Increase & Review of SMPA Access Charge

San Miguel Power Association Inc. will be holding three public meetings to discuss the impact of a recent wholesale rate increase of 4.2% beginning in 2017.

The increase will impact the largest segment of SMPA’s expenses.  (The cost of wholesale power accounts for more than 56% of the total.)  Other costs are increasing as well.  Under the circumstances, an increase in revenue is certainly needed in order for the cooperative to continue operating safely and to continue its mission of providing safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy in one of the most geographically challenging regions in the country.

Due to this need, the democratically-elected Board sought to analyze the current billing rates and fees in order to determine the most fair and practical way to increase revenues to cover costs.  This led the Board to retain the services of Power System Engineering, Inc., (PSE) one of the industry’s most respected consulting firms.

PSE provided a cost of service study that addressed three different elements of the power bill: 1) the access charge, which every member must pay regardless of how much energy they use, 2) the energy rate, which is charged for every kiloWatt-hour (kWh) they use and 3) the demand rate which only impacts members who fit a certain load profile. (See www.smpa.com→Account Services→ Understanding Your Bill for a more detailed explanation.)

The study highlighted the fact that SMPA’s current access charge of $16.00/mo. is not enough to cover the fixed costs that it is supposed to cover.  Furthermore, the Board noted that while SMPA’s energy charge is one of the highest in the western slope, its access charge is one of the lowest.  These only a few of the reasons that the Board is considering an increase to the access charge.

Of course the Board and staff of SMPA would not be considering increasing the burden on the membership without looking internally first.  Through attrition, automation and promoting from within, the management has been able to pear down the size of SMPA from 63 employees in 2010 to just 53 employees today.  SMPA is also aggregating purchases, utilizing local power generation, and extending the life of its existing assets in order to save money and relieve upward pressure on monthly electric bills.

SMPA will be giving more details and taking member feedback at three public meetings this month: The first meeting will be at the Wilkinson Library in Telluride on Monday, October 17.  The next will be at the Ouray School Multi-purpose room on Tuesday, October 18 and the final meeting will be at the Naturita Public Library on Wednesday, October 19.  All meetings will be from 6 pm to 8 pm.  All SMPA members are invited to attend, hear more and to provide feedback.

San Miguel Power Association, Inc. is a member-owned, locally-controlled rural electric cooperative with offices in Nucla and Ridgway, Colo. It is the mission of San Miguel Power Association to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service. SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 13,300 meters and supports local communities with $300,000 annually in property taxes and $400,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy rebates. SMPA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

9/01/16: Wholesale Rates Prompt Review of SMPA Access Charge

It is easy to take for granted our ready access to affordable, reliable electricity which enables so many of the modern systems we rely upon.  Surprisingly, the cost of electricity has risen relatively slowly. For example, since 1936, the average cost of a loaf of bread has increased by about 1.5¢ per year.  The cost of a kilowatt hour of the electricity needed to bake that bread has risen by only about 1¢ per decade!

While electricity remains an exceptional value in today’s modern life, the upward pressure on electric rates is still real – especially in recent years.  Recently, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (Tri-State), the wholesale power cooperative that provides electricity to your local electric utility, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), announced an increase in its rates.

The increase is in response to the rising costs of the materials and services needed to generate and transmit energy across vast distances.  Also, generation and transmission companies across the nation have seen substantial cost increases due to both state and federal regulatory compliance.

Naturally, the increase in Tri-State’s rates will impact SMPA.  Wholesale power accounts for over 60% of SMPA’s monthly expenses, so when an increase occurs, the SMPA Board of directors must decide how to cover the cost.  SMPA is a not-for-profit enterprise and one of its primary purposes is to keep electricity affordable for its members.  Because of this, the SMPA board always looks for ways to absorb wholesale rate increases before passing on the cost to the members.

One of the ways to absorb costs is to do more with less.  Throughout our history, SMPA has been leveraging technology and training to serve a growing membership with relatively few employees.

Another way to keep members’ bills lower is to help them use electricity more efficiently.  From rebate offers, to energy audits for schools and businesses to an innovative program that helps our towns switch to all LED streetlights, SMPA constantly looks for ways to help members save money.

Even with cost-saving measures in place, there comes a time when the Board of Directors must consider passing through an increase in order to keep the company solvent in the current economic landscape.  One of the considerations is how such an increase would manifest on the SMPA bill.  Rate-making is a very involved science and the Board seeks expert help when deciding how to make a change.  The Board is currently reviewing the recommendations of a recent cost-of-service study.

The study focused on the two components of the utility bill: 1) the energy rate and 2) the access charge.  The energy rate is the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) that members pay for the electricity they use.  The access charge covers SMPA’s fixed costs of providing electrical service, such as the overall cost of owning, operating and maintaining the electric distribution system, along with metering, bill processing, taxes, insurance, etc.

The analysis highlighted the fact that the current access fee is insufficient to cover SMPA’s fixed costs.  The Board also noted that, compared to other neighboring co-ops, SMPA’s access charge is currently well below average.  For these reasons, the SMPA Board is considering raising the access charge in order to bring the bill back into balance and ensure that all members pay their fair share of the fixed costs.

Like all cooperatives, SMPA is governed by the principle of democratic member control.  Directors of SMPA’s Board are elected by you, the members, in order to represent your interests.  When difficult decisions need to be made, the cooperative way is to be as transparent as possible.  To that end, the Board is hosting three public meetings to provide information and answer questions from the membership.  All SMPA members are invited.  The meetings will be held at 6 pm on October 17th at Wilkinson Library in Telluride, October 18th at the Ouray School in Ouray and on October 19th at the Naturita Public Library in Naturita.  Light refreshments will be available, and SMPA Board and staff representatives will be on hand to address whatever questions attendees may have.

7/19/16: 2016 SMPA Pays Over $1 Million in Member Dividends Back to Members

At its June meeting, the San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Board of Directors elected to return member dividends (also called “capital credits”) to the membership in the amount of $1 million.  An additional $214,000 from SMPA’s wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, will be distributed as well.

Electric co-ops like Tri-State and SMPA operate at cost— collecting enough revenue to run and expand the business but with no need to raise rates to generate profits for shareholders. When the co-op has money left over, it’s allocated back to the members as member dividends.

“This is one of the practices that sets cooperative utilities apart from their for-profit counterparts,” said SMPA board president, Rube Felicelli.  “It demonstrates that this is truly a member-owned business.”  
One of the duties of the Board of Directors is to gauge the cooperative’s financial position, and to determine the best time to pay out member dividends.  Based upon SMPA’s current financial and cash position, the Board has determined that the time is now.

Allocations less than $10 are placed into a hold account until the amount reaches $10.  Members who are due $10 or more in member dividends will receive a check in the mail next month.
Members are encouraged to check the mail for these member dividends, and to continue to participate in the electric cooperative they own:  San Miguel Power Association

Powered by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Logo
Colorado Rural Electric Association Home Page Touchstone Energy Kids Zone Tri-State Generation and Transmission