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Power Providers

Power providers generate or purchase electricity that they sell to electric utilities. Among power providers, wholesale power providers such as Tri-State Generation & Transmission either generate or purchase power on behalf of their members. Independent power producers sell their power on the market and commonly generate renewable electricity for purchase by electric utilities.

In some cases, “vertically integrated” companies like Xcel Energy both generate and distribute power. These companies as well as wholesale power providers typically own and operate transmission lines and infrastructure. Transmission lines carry power to substations, at which point electric utilities own and operate the distribution lines and infrastructure needed to bring power directly to individuals.

Colorado Electric Utilities

There are three different types of electric utilities in Colorado: investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and rural electric associations. Investor-owned utilities are for-profit monopolies that are governed by shareholders and regulated by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Xcel and Black Hills Energy are the two IOU electric utilities in the state. These utilities both generate their own power and purchase power from other providers.

Municipal electric utilities are governed by a municipality’s elected officials or appointed utility boards. There are 29 municipal electric utilities in the state, with Colorado Springs Utilities as the largest and the Fleming Electric Light Department as the smallest. Most of these utilities purchase power from public providers such as the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), the Arkansas River Power Authority (ARPA), and the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA).

Rural electric associations are governed by their owner-members. There are 26 REAs in Colorado. Most of these utilities purchase power from the Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association or Xcel Energy. According to the Colorado Rural Electric Association, REAs serve an average of 7.9 members per mile, municipal electric utilities serve an average of 48 customers per mile, and Xcel Energy serves an average of 34 customers per mile.

Last updated: October 5, 2017 at 15:50 pm