James K. Tarpey

Of Counsel


James K. Tarpey

Of Counsel


James K. Tarpey is a regulatory attorney at Ireland Stapleton. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a commissioner at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from early January 2008 to early January 2014. He was initially appointed by Governor Ritter and subsequently reappointed by Governor Hickenlooper. As one of three commissioners, he was vested under Article XXV of the Colorado Constitution with the authority to regulate public utilities.

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Among the matters accomplished during his tenure, the PUC implemented the Clean Air–Clean Jobs legislation and ultimately approved the retirement, dismantlement or retrofit of approximately 900 MW on Public Service Company’s electric system. In addition, the PUC oversaw implementation of the Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation; established energy efficiency goals and corresponding incentives for various electric and gas utilities; and resolved a variety of requests by utilities to increase retail rates.

Mr. Tarpey also was active in various local and regional efforts to improve the transmission system in the west. He played a leading role in revising the PUC’s rules regarding approval of transmission projects by encouraging the engagement of all stakeholders early in the planning process and requiring a broader review of other transmission projects being planned or considered by all utilities in Colorado.

Through his involvement with WIEB, Mr. Tarpey followed various transmission projects being planned in the west from the perspective of possible impact on Colorado.

In recognition of his extensive involvement in a wide range of regulatory matters and the recognition nationally by both the public and private sectors of his expertise in utility regulatory law, Governor Hickenlooper proclaimed January 9, 2014 as “James K. Tarpey Day.”

Prior to his time as a PUC Commissioner, Mr. Tarpey had extensive legal experience with utility matters. He participated in numerous regulatory proceedings involving alternative forms of regulation (e.g. incentive ratemaking, performance-based pricing, indexing and discounted rate structures); rate related issues (e.g., revenue requirements, cost allocation, rate design, adjustment clauses, prudence reviews); territorial and certificate disputes; and issues related to local telecommunication markets and the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Mr. Tarpey often appeared before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the Wyoming Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission litigating complex utility issues and negotiating settlements of multi-million dollar disputes.

In 2004, Mr. Tarpey was appointed by Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, a state instrumentality with funding authority whose goals included improving the state’s electric transmission system, facilitating the increased utilization of Wyoming’s energy resources and coordinating with other states in the western system power grid to address transmission constraints.

From 2001 through 2007, Mr. Tarpey was in private practice and generally represented energy consumers in utility proceedings. From 1996 through 2000, he was a business executive involved in regulatory matters. From 1977 through 1996, he was in private practice and represented various utilities. Prior to private practice, he was an Administrative Law Judge for the Colorado PUC and an Assistant Attorney General representing the Colorado PUC.

Community Involvement

  • Colorado Lawyers Committee, 2018-2022 Chair’s Roundtable: member
  • Colorado Lawyers Committee, Hate Crimes Education Program: participant in presenting to middle and high school students a trial based upon a fictional case arising under the Colorado Hate Crimes statue
  • Littleton Immigrant Resources Center: ESL tutor

Personal Interests

Jim and his wife Mary Ann were married in 1969 and have two adult children. Jim and Mary Ann enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing and sea kayaking. Both also enjoy reading and traveling.

Contact Info

Practice Areas


  • Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 1968
  • St. John’s University, College of Business Administration B.B.A., 1965


  • Admitted to practice in Colorado
  • Admitted to practice in New York