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Kit Carson Co-op switches electric providers

SANTA FE —  Kit Carson Electric Cooperative announced in a pair of joint press releases Monday that it is flipping the switch on wholesale power providers, signing a withdrawal agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and expecting to enter into a long-term deal with Guzman Renewable Energy Partners.

Kit Carson Chief Executive Officer Luis Reyes said the move to the Florida-based Guzman Renewable Energy Partners, which has an office in Denver, was “a significant step in giving members greater flexibility at lower cost.”

The switch is expected to save Kit Carson Electric’s 30,000 customers in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties $50 million over the course of the 10-year agreement, according to the co-op.

It also increases the amount of energy generated by renewable sources. Kit Carson Electric and Colorado-based Tri-State have been at odds over a 5 percent cap Tri-State places on locally generated renewable energy.  “Working together under the power purchase agreement, Kit Carson and GREP will be able to consider and access renewable energy as well as improve Kit Carson’s strategic position for energy supply,” the joint release with Guzman states.

Tri-State Chief Executive Officer Mike McInnes called the agreement mutual and amicable. “The agreement is fair and equitable and protects the interests of all the association’s members,” he said.

The Taos News reported in October that Tri-State initially was seeking $137 million from Kit Carson Electric to terminate the last 24 years of the 40-year contract. No terms of the withdrawal agreement were disclosed Monday. The announcements do say that the closing date on the withdrawal agreement is set for June 30 and the new 10-year agreement with Guzman Renewable Energy is to start July 1.

Tri-State supplies power to 44 co-ops in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming that serve more than 1 million customers.

This is not Guzman’s first foray into New Mexico. In January, the company announced that it would become the primary source of energy for the city of Aztec after building a 1-megawatt solar energy farm on eight acres within the city limits that would generate about 8 percent of the city’s electricity. Aztec City Manager Joshua Ray said Monday the solar array is scheduled to go online Friday.

Last year, the affiliated Guzman Energy Group opened its Denver office, saying its presence there would accommodate its rapid growth trajectory and give the firm greater proximity to its clients in the West. It has “a trading desk designed to accommodate 14 energy traders and marketers.”

“With a variety of sources and capabilities, GREP is able to deliver electricity savings to customers big and small while at the same time accommodating increasing demand for renewable resources,” Jeffrey Heit, GREP’s managing director, said in Monday’s press release. “We are committed to providing our partners, including Kit Carson’s ratepayers, with economical, reliable and clean sources of energy.”

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