Last week, Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker said the city still needs more answers before it will consider renewing its franchise agreement with Socorro Electric Cooperative (SEC).

In January, Socorro City Council said if the cooperative were to seek the favor of Socorro City Council, it would have to commit to two things: better rates and no long-term franchise agreement.

Mayor Bhasker followed the meeting with a letter dated January 23 to SEC Board of Trustees Chairman Leroy Anaya and board members was well as CEO Joseph Herrera, stating the council needed the following information additional information before it could proceed to decide:

1. The co-op stated it had loans totaling approximately $44 million. Please provide us with the documentation showing how much of those funds were spent within city limits.
2. How many accounts between residential and commercial does SEC service within the Socorro City limits?
a. In the last two years, how much revenue was generated from those accounts each year?
3. How many acres of land does SEC utilize of city-owned property?
4. How much money in gross receipts does the SEC pay each year?
5. Please share with the city council your four-year construction plan along with any others you have had since 1998.
6. Please explain the $2 million worth of collections shown on your financial statement for the financial period ending in December 2022.
7. Can you conduct a capital credit buy-out with Tri-State?

On March 13, SEC President of the Board of Trustees Leroy Anaya responded to Bhasker’s posed questions.

1. We don’t keep plant records assets by location.
2. SEC has approximately 4,600 accounts within the city.
3. SEC does not track city acres of land used.
4. CRS payments in 2022 totaled $1,180,108.10 and in 2023 totaled $1,203,925.59.
5. Yes, the SEC said it would share its four-year construction plan.
6. SEC questioned where the city had seen the collections showing $2 million worth of collections.
7. A capital credit buyout of the Tri-State contract is not feasible and cost-effective.

Anaya said the SEC is working in good faith and its staff would follow up when time permits. He also urged Mayor Bhasker to add the franchise agreement to the agenda as soon as its next council meeting for a vote by the city council.

Also included with SEC response was a draft ordinance for the council to consider, which included a one-year extension, but could only be renewed for a total of four one-year periods, upon 60 days prior written notice delivered by SEC to the city for each yearly renewal.

To approve an ordinance for the city, it must be drafted by the city council – not an outside entity. The ordinance would then be published in the newspaper of record (El Defensor Chieftain), where it sets a time and date when a public hearing would be conducted. After the public hearing, the council would then determine: 1. If changes need to be made; 2. If it would pass the ordinance; or 3. If the ordinance should be killed.

Answers not complete
In his mayor’s comments, last week, Bhasker said SEC did not answer the answers in good faith. “They have the answers, they just didn’t want to share them with us,” he said.

He went on to note Tri-State must borrow money to stay afloat because members leaving the entity by droves in the Dever (Colo.) market. As a result, that debt will be passed on to other co-ops who do business with Tri-State – including Socorro Electric Co-op.

Bhasker also noted the city wants to know what SEC’s vision is for the next five years. In SEC’s response to the city, it noted it would share its 4-year construction plan.

Franchise agreement expires May 17
SEC’s franchise agreement with the City of Socorro enacted on May 17, 1999, expires on May 17, 2024. At the present time, the city is not willing to sign another 25-year agreement with SEC.

In its drafted ordinance for consideration, SEC included an extension period of one year from the date of adoption. If approved by the city, verbiage would include that the ordinance could be renewed for a total of four one-year periods, upon 60 days’ prior written notice delivered by Socorro Electric Co-op, to the city for each yearly renewal.

LaPlata Electric Association withdraws from Tri-State
This week the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors (Durango, Colo.) voted on Monday to formally withdraw from the membership of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State) and filed its Notice of Intent to Withdraw at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C., effective April 1, 2026.

Its departure will aid LPEA’s efforts toward the advancement of affordable, clean energy initiatives, increasing resiliency, and expanding local generation. LPEA joins former Tri-State members Delta Montrose Electric Association and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, who have already exited Tri-State and Mountain Parks Electric, Northwest Rural Public Power District, and United Power who will fully depart soon.