The relationship between Tri-State and our members goes well beyond buying and selling electricity, as members are more than customers. As a cooperative, our members are our owners, and the responsible management of their shared investment is our focus every day.
We manage our expenses so we can keep rates stable for our members. We’ve avoided rate increases four of the last five years, and don’t expect any increases in the next three years, either. Our financial strength has also earned us investment grade ratings from the three primary credit rating agencies.
Our members have an investment and ownership in the $5 billion of association assets – including power plants, transmission systems and facilities – represented by their equity investment created by reserved patronage capital. In 2018, our board approved the payment of a patronage capital refund (or retirement) of $30 million, compared to $20 million in 2017 and $10 million in 2016.
In line with the practices of other electric utilities, financing our infrastructure requires loans. It’s something we do thoughtfully, and our debt portfolio is structured to be flexible to:
- react to changes in the market and regulation
- adjust to changes in our asset portfolio
- accommodate potential changes to our contracts
- appropriately capitalize the association
- return equity to the members
Our membership demands we meet all of our financial goals and maintain financial strength, which benefits our owners – the 43 members of Tri-State – who all have a stake in the association’s success.