Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, an electricity provider based in Westminster, Colorado, recently announced the purchase of a major natural gas power plant.

Located in Fort Lupton, Colorado, north of Denver, the plant is owned by Thermo Cogeneration Partnership, which Tri-State acquired in full from Connecticut-based investment firm Starwood Energy Group.

Tri-State purchased 150 megawatts of electricity from the plant each year for the past two years, but the electricity supplier's load grew by a substantial 5.5 percent in 2010. With roughly 272 megawatts of total generating capacity, the plant should provide more than enough room for Tri-State to continue to expand without needing to contract for electricity.

"The acquisition of this natural gas power plant complements our existing generating resources to serve our growing member cooperatives' loads," said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson. "It further diversifies our resource fleet and provides important load-following capabilities in a high-growth part of our four-state system."

Natural gas has come to play an important role in Colorado's electricity production with more than 41 percent of all generation capacity in 2009 coming from the fuel source, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.