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B919ECB7871D2E7B872584A4006BEEFD Hearing Summary


Date Oct 31, 2019      
Location HCR 0112

Colorado Rural Electric Association - Committee Discussion Only

01:38:58 PM  

Kent Singer, Executive Director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, presented to the committee on electric cooperatives in Colorado.

01:43:03 PM  

Paul Erickson, Chief Executive Officer of Sangre de Cristo Electric, presented information about his electric co-op. He explained that their operating costs are very high, leading to high rates for consumers, and that they operate in highly forested areas. He discussed the challenge of maintaining power lines that cross US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, as well as Department of Transportation (CDOT) rights of way. He explained that his co-op is most concerned with dangerous trees, which come into contact with overhead lines.

01:47:21 PM  
Mr. Erickson explained that Sangre de Cristo Electric's lines are not always included on state maps, which makes fire mitigation planning difficult. He also discussed the difficulty of removing dangerous trees that are not in the co-op's right-of-way. He suggested that state law could help address these limitations. He responded to questions about power poles and clearing space around them.
01:56:36 PM  
Mark Johnston, Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Parks Electric, provided information about his electric co-op. He discussed his experience with wildfire management in Alaska. He noted that his co-op has right-of-way challenges similar to those faced by Sangre de Cristo Electric.
02:05:10 PM  

Mr. Johnston discussed insurance costs for utilities and the inability to obtain sufficient insurance to cover fighting a wildfire. He suggested that an insurance pool for electric co-ops might help, as would a stop-loss policy.

02:08:44 PM  
Mr. Erickson responded to a committee question about getting electricity generation and transmission companies to purchase biomass.
02:15:07 PM  

Mr. Singer pointed out that legislation could help clarify the negligence standards that apply to utilities. Mr. Erickson answered a question about Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) lines and the space cleared around them, which are designed as standard fire breaks. Mr. Johnston responded to a question about the right of way along distribution lines, which in Colorado is 20 feet surrounding the line. Mr. Erickson suggested doubling that space would be helpful. Committee discussion on rights of way and clearance continued.

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