February 16, 2015

Colorado GOP Advances Rollback of Renewable Energy Mandate

Colorado Republicans pushed one of their top priorities through the Senate on Thursday - rolling back renewable energy mandates.

But the vote probably doesn’t mean that utilities will need less energy from renewable sources. The Democratic House is unlikely to go along with the repeal.

Republicans used their newfound majority in the Senate to repeal one of their most hated laws passed in recent years by Democrats. It’s a 2013 law forcing rural electricity providers to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Republicans have long argued that increasing the mandate on rural consumers from 15 percent to 20 percent was unfair.

The bill also lowered the mandate for investor-owned utilities, such as Xcel Energy, that serve most Coloradans. Investor-owned utilities would need 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, down from 30 percent.

Colorado’s 29 municipally-owned utilities weren’t affected by the bill, which passed on an 18-17 party-line vote.

Republicans called the mandates bad for consumers.

“This drains economic vitality from every segment of our society,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.
Lundberg personally outfitted his home to use renewable energy and said he values clean energy. But he argued that the free market should drive electricity suppliers to renewable sources, not government mandates.

“The mandate in place drives the cost too high for the people of Colorado,” he argued.
Democrats called the plan a bad idea.

“This is moving us back,” said Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.

After a short debate, the bill won final Senate approval. That sends the measure to the House, where the bill’s prospects are dim.

One of the sponsors of the 2013 rural electricity bill was Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst. She’s now House Speaker.

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