January 24, 2011

GOP pushes back on renewable mandate in CO

Some legislative Republicans are pushing back at recently enacted mandates that increase Colorado’s reliance on alternative energy.

The GOP’s Sen. Shawn Mitchell, of Broomfield, is calling for a scaling back increased portfolio standards for the use of renewable energy by public utilities, imposed by the legislature last year, and Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, is proposing that the costs of providing alternative energy be reflected on utility bills.

Mitchell’s Senate Bill 71, introduced last week, says that alternative energy sources should comprise 10 percent of power generation—a standard first approved by state voters in 2004 under Amendment 37. The new legislation ramps down last year’s House bill 10-1001, passed by a Democratically controlled legislature that increased the percentage to 30 percent by the year 2020. The bill was signed into law by then Gov. Bill Ritter. The 2011 General Assembly is split between GOP control in the House of Representatives and continue Democratic control in the Senate.

Mitchell said he believes the voters approved the 10 percent requirement in good faith and that the legislature imposed its own agenda without regard for the voters’ intent.

“Voters approved a substantial move toward alternative energy as a reasonable step to see if it’s practical and cost-effective,” said Mitchell. “This green fantasy of pushing it up to 20 and then 30 percent slaps voters in the face. It punishes voters by replacing a modest experiment with an extreme one.”

However that debate shapes up, Renfroe says he believes consumers have a right to know what the costs are to rely ever more on alternative forms of energy. His Senate Bill 30 would require providers to specify the costs by energy type on a consumer’s bill statement.

“It’s important for people to have information about what energy is costing them,” said Renfroe. “People should always have that level of transparency. We all want energy efficiency, but we need to know the cost to make those decisions.”

However, Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Aspen, said rolling back the requirement from 30 percent would be a step backward for the state.

“This is a sector of the economy demonstrating growth, new jobs and investment,” said Schwartz. “Our leadership on renewable energy development has brought Colorado national and international attention. This bill is backwards thinking.”

Source: http://bit.ly/h3XIIQ

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