July 8, 2013

New CO Law Mandates Green Energy Increase Not Be at Customer Expense

A bill requiring Colorado’s rural energy cooperatives to double their green energy output went into effect Monday.

Senate Bill 252, signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in June, requires rural energy companies to provide 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. The previous model only demanded 10 percent through renewable means.

While forcing energy companies to rethink the way they make electricity may sound expensive, companies are also required to refrain from passing these mandated costs onto customers. According to the bill, customer energy bills can only go up 2 percent in cost from normal levels through this measure. Since they could increase 1 percent under former law, this means both green energy requirements and the amount of costs that can be passed on to customers rose by 100 percent.

Vocal petitioners have repeatedly said that something will not go as planned, if energy companies are forced into renewable energy production and have to eat the costs.

However, there are protections in the law. Doug Shepman, communications director of the Colorado Senate Majority, told the Colorado Watchdog in an email that the renewable energy standard is frozen at whatever green energy increase co-ops can achieve at that rate cap. So if a co-op cannot fully reach the 20 percent renewable energy goal without raising the cost beyond two percent, it need go no further.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Senate President John Morse, is already facing a potential recall vote for ignoring the concerns of rural voters.

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