Colorado Co-op Has Paid Lawyers Millions to Pursue Exit from Wholesale Power Co-op

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How much will Dakota members pay?

La Plata Electric Association, an electric co-op based in Durango, Colorado, has spent nearly $1.7 million dollars to pursue an exit from its cooperative power supplier—with no end in sight—according to media reports and the cooperative’s website.

La Plata’s own website details the staggering numbers:

Legal costs to pursue a potential exit from Tri-State are as follows:

  • 2018: $18,327
  • 2019: $378,141
  • 2020 (as of Oct.): $1.3 million

Almost $1.7 million—to attorneys. LaPlata reports this does not include employees’ time spent on the project as they are salaried.

Back here in South Dakota, Dakota Energy has filed a lawsuit to obtain a buyout number to leave its long-term wholesale power contract with its trusted cooperative power supplier, East River Electric, and instead buy power from an out-of-state, for-profit power marketer, Guzman Energy.

The La Plata example is raising lots of questions about Dakota’s lawsuit against East River and plans to buy power from Guzman, such as:

  • How much will Dakota Energy spend on lawyers in an attempt to break its contract with East River? Is this a good use of members’ money?
  • How many years will the case(s) and appeal(s) last?
  • Why didn’t the Dakota Energy board and management ask the membership first before filing the lawsuit?

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