Three years ago, a small nonprofit utility in New Mexico won a huge victory for choice and competition in electricity markets – and the impacts are still being felt across the West.
In June 2016, the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos severed ties with a monopoly wholesale power provider, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, in search of cheaper and more renewable sources of electricity.
It wasn’t an easy move. Kit Carson reportedly paid $37 million to terminate its 40-year wholesale contract with Tri-State. But even with that cost, Kit Carson officials determined they could secure long-term savings by accessing wholesale power markets directly and building more local sources of renewable electricity.
This was made possible by a major transformation in U.S. energy markets over the past decade. Natural gas and renewables, which used to be relatively expensive sources of electricity, are now relatively cheap.