The Socorro Co-op’s special meeting last Friday at 2 p.m. began with a motion to postpone the meeting for fifteen minutes to allow a presenting party who was traveling, Guzman Energy, a grace period to arrive.

Jerrid Williams, SEC’s director of communications, said that the meeting was called by Guzman, who confirmed the meeting. He said that Guzman sent flight schedules and stated they’d be at the meeting by 12:30 p.m.

After deadline for print, Guzman Energy’s Principle Managing Director, Jeffery Heit said that he believed there was a miscommunication.

For the February 16 special meeting, we had confirmed we’d have myself, our CEO, Chief Commercial Officer, and origination team in-person in Socorro for a two-hour time allotment. When we learned on February 13th that the board could only allow us 45 minutes on the board agenda, we respectfully asked to reschedule for another date when we could have time for a more complete discussion.” Heit said.

He said that they offered to host the SEC board at the Guzman Energy office headquarters in Denver to have a “complete and productive conversation.”

“We exchanged emails with the Socorro Electric Cooperative on February 13 conveying that it would be best to reschedule. Apparently, there was a miscommunication. SEC had offered via email that if necessary, the meeting could be rescheduled for a later date. We have asked SEC to let us know the date they can reschedule with us, and we look forward to hearing back from them.” Heit said.

Without Guzman present the meeting continued with a presentation from Tri-State, Socorro Electric Co-op’s provider.

Duane Highley, Chief Executive Officer of Tri-State, began the presentation by saying they are celebrating 72 years as a co-operative and serve in four states including Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico.

“Our whole mission is first and foremost, reliability, and that comes before everything else,” Highley said. “We have put together a system that will continue to have more stability.”

He said how they built their system is designed to hedge any kind of risk that could occur and avoid any kind of power outage with a diversity of resources.

Affordability and responsible power are also priorities, said Highley.

“We will be at 70% clean energy use by all of our members across all four of our states by the end of this decade. By 2025, we will be at 50% of clean energy used by all our members, because of the addition of wind and solar,” Highley said.

He said they have a large solar project in New Mexico that is 1,700 acres of solar panel- a 200-megawatt Escalante Solar Project in Grants, New Mexico. More solar projects are in the works.

He said they are offering more flexibility in their contracts allowing community solar and they are working on reintroducing partial requirements, which allow members to generate up to 40% of their own power.

According to Highley, what distinguishes their company from others is their transparency; all their meetings are open and documents are available.

“You can’t go to PNM and be part of their board meeting, you can’t get the details of their operations like ours,” Highley said.

He spoke about the power outage in Magdalena last August, saying that the average wait for a transformer is 12 to 18 months; however, because they have a fleet of mobile substations, they were able to get one from Nebraska and get power back on in several days.

“Our crews worked through the night to get that substation delivered by truck, set it up and you were energized by August 9,” Highley said.

He said they haven’t raised their rates since 2017 and had two rate decreases, 2% each time.

This year they will have to have their first rate increase since 2017, due to high inflation it will be about 6%, but compared to 2017, it will be about 1.7 %.

When the presentation was over, and Guzman had not arrived the board voted to adjourn the meeting.

A video of the meeting is available at the Socorro Electric Co-op website.

Editor’s note: This story has been last updated at noon on February 23.

Jessica Carranza Pino, Editor