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Utilities complaint in early stages

Commissioner speaks in Durango

Patton Enlarge photo

Patton

The complaint filed this week with the state Public Utilities Commission about new electricity rates charged by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is so fresh that it hasn’t gone anywhere, the newest commissioner said Friday.

Pam Patton, speaking at a League of Women Voters gathering at Durango Public Library, said one early decision by utilities commissioners will be whether to hear the matter themselves or assign it to an administrative law judge.

“It’s just arrived at our door,” Patton said of the three-person Public Utilities Commission. “It won’t move along quickly.”

The complaint was filed Monday by La Plata Electric Association, two other electric cooperatives and several heavy hitters in the energy field – BP, Kinder Morgan, Exxon-Mobil and Encana Oil & Gas. The topic is Tri-State’s switch from “time of use” rates to a system that charges for average usage.

The change will cost ratepayers more, the complaint says.

Patton said the number of the complaint is 13F-0145E if anyone wants to track proceedings.

At the end of her 45-minute presentation, Patton answered questions about matters in Southwest Colorado regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. As backup, she asked Jim Dyer, a commissioner from 2001 to 2004, to stand beside her at the rostrum.

Among her comments were:

Since 1950, six PUC commissioners have come from locations other than the Denver metro area.

PUC regulations attempt to assure reliable service, reasonable costs and environmental protection.

In the field of transportation, a dozen commercial carriers – charter buses, taxis, towing companies and moving companies – are regulated.

The PUC has five inspectors who keep tabs on 24,000 miles of natural-gas pipelines.

Propane is not regulated unless it involves a system with 10 or more distribution units such as in a housing development.

In a 30-minute ceremony prior to Patton’s talk, League of Women Voters members paid tribute to Susan Herbst, a dynamo credited with breathing new life into the local chapter in the late 1990s.

The event was the anniversary of the Sue Herbst Day proclaimed by the Madison, Wis., City Council on March 8, 1994, to recognize her.

Herbst died July 2, 2012, at her home in Durango.

Daughters Stephanie Herbst of Durango and Anne Herbst of Boston were present Friday.

Friday also was International Women’s Day.

daler@durangoherald.com

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