How a massive electric co-op is harnessing the climate law

By Jason Plautz | 07/03/2024 06:55 AM EDT

Tri-State Generation and Transmission CEO Duane Highley spoke to POLITICO’s E&E News about the Western nonprofit’s plans for a “rapid energy transition.”

Duane Highley, CEO of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Duane Highley, CEO of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

As head of one of the country’s largest electric supply cooperatives, Duane Highley knows the pain and promise of delivering clean energy to a mix of rural and suburban customers.

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has a territory that stretches nearly 200,000 square miles across four states, serving 40-plus members. Like thousands of electric cooperatives across the country, Tri-State’s status as a nonprofit has long hampered its ability to invest in solar and wind projects, even as some state regulations required a transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels.

But in early June, Tri-State announced its first-ever purchase of renewable projects: the Axial Basin Solar and the Dolores Canyon Solar projects in Colorado that will provide a combined 255 megawatts of power.


By the end of 2025, the co-op says at least 50 percent of its annual power will be clean energy. On some individual days, Tri-State expects that number could exceed 90 percent.