Public Utilities Commission examines coal plans, could rule Wednesday

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Gov. Ritter’s statement on PUC Clean Air, Clean Jobs deliberations

Staff report

Gov. Bill Ritter released a statement Monday night on the Colorado Public Utilities Commission debating Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act.

Ritter, according to the statement, is encouraging the PUC to “fully implement this landmark legislation” that calls for transitioning power plants from coal-fired electricity to natural gas.

The full statement is below:

“For the past four years, we have established Colorado as a national and international leader in building a New Energy Economy,” Ritter said. “We have created thousands of jobs, adopted 57 forward-thinking laws and built a clean-energy economy that is now a model for other states to follow. The capstone to all of this is the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, a bipartisan initiative supported by a broad coalition of interests that will again make Colorado a national energy trendsetter.

“The Act provides a cost-effective path for a uniquely Colorado plan to comply with federal clean-air regulations. Poor air quality impacts everyone, particularly children, senior citizens, those who are ill and other vulnerable residents. Among the most important elements of the Act – the opportunity to clean our air while building local economies.

“The bipartisan Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act provides the path forward for Colorado to fully transition by 2017 from the largest sources of pollution in the Denver metro area — delivering healthier air, a steady flow of clean electricity, and a stronger clean energy economy."

Vince Reed, a Craig resident and electrician at Twentymile Coal Co., spent most of Monday’s daylight hours asleep. He was resting for the hours of hard work awaiting him during his graveyard shift at the coal mine.

While Reed slept, however, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission debated emission reduction plans filed by Xcel Energy that he contends could force him and many other miners at Twentymile out of a job.

The plans being considered are required by Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act. The bill would seek to retire coal-fired generation at several Colorado power plants and re-power those and other plants with natural gas power or modern emissions control technology.

“I feel almost betrayed,” the 43-year-old Reed said of Xcel’s plan.

The PUC deliberated on Xcel’s plan for more than three hours Monday, PUC spokesman Terry Bote said. The commissioners reached general agreement on some parts of a plan proposed by Xcel, but an entire plan was not approved, Bote said.

The PUC is scheduled to resume deliberations Wednesday with a possible oral ruling coming then.

After the PUC decides on a plan, under the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, Xcel has the “right to say, ‘We don’t like that’ and walk away,’” Bote said.

The PUC, Bote said, has reviewed all of the testimony entered into the case, which included written and oral testimony from hundreds of Northwest Colorado residents during PUC public comment hearings in Denver and Grand Junction.

“Everything that was submitted as part of this docket has been reviewed and is under consideration in the decision,” Bote said. “All of the parties presented their witnesses, everybody had a chance to cross-examine everybody else … all of the evidence is going to be considered.”

Reed said Xcel’s proposed emission reduction plans put Northwest Colorado “on the chopping block.”

“It’s tough you know,” he said as he drove to work Monday. “I got six kids, four of them still at home. I think that I am fortunate to be in a trade as an electrician that should things go bad later on down the road, I am probably a little bit more fortunate than most to be able to maybe go out and find a different job or move to a different area.

“That weighs heavily on my mind about the future of my job and the future for this valley.”

In the weeks and months leading up to the PUC’s deliberation of the plans, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he has felt increasingly dejected.

“I’m feeling like maybe we lost,” Mathers said. “With everything we tried doing, it fell on deaf ears. We wanted our voice to be heard. We did everything we thought possible to get the message across and it was kind of just set that this was the way it was going to come out.”

More than 1,500 documents have been submitted as part of the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act docket, Bote said.

Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said she was concerned the PUC did not have enough time to give those documents sufficient consideration.

“Let’s slow down this process and review that and make a thoughtful, careful decision,” Danner said. “They are working within the constraints of this Dec. 15 deadline, and that to me seems to take precedence over a careful decision that will carry us into the future with our industries and our resources and our utilities.”

Danner said she would like the PUC to extend the deadline for ruling on the plans.

One of the things Mathers said he was upset by was the result of a motion for two of the PUC commissioners to disqualify themselves from ruling on the plans.

Bote said the motion cited the “participation by the commissioners in helping to draft or develop the language of the legislation.”

However, the PUC deliberated on the motion and denied it in late October.

Mathers said he was anything but happy about the PUC’s decision.

“When there is a conflict of interest and they have to make a ruling on whether they can still sit on the board and make the final decision on how this affects the rate payers, how can they be their own judge?” he said.

In the face of a pending approval of Xcel’s plans, Reed said he thought there was at least one good thing that came out of the last several months concerning the bill. Reed feels proud the Northwest Colorado community turned out by the hundreds to protest the bill and Xcel’s plans.

“I felt good that our community spoke up the way that they did, even if it wasn’t for anything,” he said.

When asked if such community support would help Northwest Colorado residents fight for local coal interests in the future, Reed said he could only hope.

“I hope that as a company we are strong enough to gather additional coal sales and continue to move on,” he said. “That the people that work out there are able to continue to work out there and support their families and live their lives in this valley so they don’t have to go someplace else.”

Comments

onewhocares 4 years ago

I'm just throwing this idea around, but could it be the Moffat Co Commissioners who were conveniently not aware of the Clean Air Bill or not a part of the pre-discussions until it was passed, were maybe not too concerned about it or turned a blind eye, because they had all ready gotten a pocket full from the natural gas & oil guys, that conveniently showed up soon after its passing ???

I don't know, but the timing is a bit too convenient to me.

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justthefacts 4 years ago

Fact: You are correct one who.

Fact: And now the County Commissioners Boo hoo!!!!

Just The crying Facts

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taxslave 4 years ago

Absolutely and positively they knew.....I told them at their meeting but they would Not Listen. I warned, I warned, I warned. They ignored, ignored, ignored.

Again, they do not represent You and Yours.

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taxslave 4 years ago

Just for the record, all my postings of the warnings I issued are still in the archieves here on this site. I posted what went on in the meetings as well as bringing the clean air bill to light and warning over it as well. It's all there. I warned about the clean air bill almost two years ago now. They, the commissioners, had all the time in the world to read, review, rebuke, challenge, etc. Nope, they did N O T H I N G

Go read for yourself. I have spoken and typed truth for a few years now. No one listens because you have been taught to believe that if it matters it would be on tv or something. They want you asleep, comotose, lost in stupid so they can continue to do and get away with it all. Football is put there to distract you. Dancing with stars....distraction. Reality tv, distraction. American Idle, distraction.

All of it is to distract you from the truth. Better wake up and you can start by turning off the tv and look for a better source of information because this paper is not your friend either.

Folks, for the record, you can't handle the truth of what is really going on and the true agenda.

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onewhocares 4 years ago

Taxslave,

I hate to say it, but I think you are right !!! All the "distractions" keep people preoccupied so they won't have the time or desire to research the truth --- it's really scary when you begin to realize the people & institutions you have trusted for years, have actually been lying to your face all along to make you feel okay, the entire time robbing the communities blind. Have people wondered how despite paying millions in taxes each year, somehow the money is gone for needed resources (schooling, roads, etc) with the overseers somehow living high on the hog? Town after town in America (think of Bell, CA) is broke from politicians embezzling the coffers away from small towns to huge cities. As for your warnings, Taxslave I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention to the Clean Air Bill & your posts until recently myself. Fyi-even though I am very concerned about the state of the environment, I question the whole reason behind the Clean Air Bill, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that Noble Energy from Texas discovered 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Israel's coast in addition to another huge holding they have there. I can't helping think that there's now more money to be made off the people in the US in natural gas than coal, which explains the Clean Air Act. What is that saying "evil likes nothing more than quiet voices and idle people?" I just hope the people of Moffat find the strength and courage to stand up against the Commissioners and the oil & gas companies to protect their homes & start to question what is being said to them.

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justthefacts 4 years ago

Fact: Book of Facts 3-1:

Then on the seventh day the Commissioners heard the laments of the people and said we will help.

3-2 :The people were in awe as the Commissioners traveled to the far away land of Grand Junction along with the people so to bow down in front the powers.

3-3: The decision had been made without even a wimper from the Commissioners, but reconcillation and a change of heart was sought.

3-4:The decision must be reversed or jobs will be lost, all but the Commissioners and their band of merry makers in the basement.

3-5: For low and behold Election time was near!!!!!!.

Just The historical Facts

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j4mom7 4 years ago

Just an FYI - check out an article in the Boulder Daily Camera that I just read online. It says six Front Range plants will be closed by 2017, and the Hayden plant and the one near Brush will have pollution controls put in place, not be closed. Nothing said about Tri-State. If this is true, it's good news in that it looks like people working Hayden and Craig plants will still have a job to go to.

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GreyStone 4 years ago

Yes, the plants will be converted to natural gas.

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stelladams 4 years ago

The price of natural gas will go out the roof, just like gasoline is now. The more you use the more they will charge. Your utility bill for electricity will go out the roof. They will need to find more natural gas to keep up with the demand. When utility companies start ramping up there plants with just natural gas, the price to heat your home is going to go up. Then they will revert back to coal because consumers will rave about the price they will be paying for there electricity.

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GreyStone 4 years ago

Yes, I agree, the utility companies need to be competitive and able to switch to the most economic fuel, whether it be coal or natural gas.

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doug monger 4 years ago

Extremely disappointing, but absolutely not surprising. Since the PUC colluded with the Democratic majority in both houses, Gas intervenors, the environmentalists, and the Governor's office, this deal was sealed when HB 10-1365 entered the legislative arena, hence the short time frame from introduction to signing. Not to mention that the Chairman of the PUC and another member of the PUC should have been disqualified from the proceeding by prejudging the docket(motion filed, backed up by FOIA records obtained), not to mention, that the cleaned up coal option met ALL of the clean air standards, including any "reasonable foreseable" regulations that might come down the road, and was also the hands down cheapest option for the ratepayers, (PUC's job is to represent the rate payers), not to mention, that this was to clean up the front range-Colorado air quality, when the air quality issue is us all driving our gas guzzlers. Almost humerous that Chairman Binz indicated that he advocated monies be set aside to re-train and re-mobolize unemployed coal miners. Where, and to do what, do we think there are jobs that we can retrain this speciality work force into a labor market that doesn't exist. Maybe we can retrain them in the renewable energy business, think about it NOT!!! I was surprised that Chairman Binz did not think about setting up a set aside for the amount of monies that the local governments of Northwestern Colorado will no longer receive. The bottom line is this work force will leave our area with their high paying jobs and go to areas that support extraction industries that improve our environmental conditions, and local governments will have less revenue to take care of local government needs (Twentymile coal largest taxpayer in Routt county). Extremely disappointing in a time when we are trying to create jobs and prop up the stagnant economy, we would hurt one of the most important "OTHER-non tourism" industries that create and maintain long term high paying jobs in our two county region. Also don't think that you won't be affected. We are included in the rate payers, so not only do we take it on the short end on the labor and employment side, we will get to share in the solution to the front range HAZE solution, the initial rate forcasts included a 50% increase in rates just to take care of the decommissioning and rebuilding of the gas plants, that does not include the continued increase in utilities based on the fuel costs(not yet known, could be as much as 200%, sorry no one really knows the number), realizing that we now are heading into a solesource fuel source and will be subject in the long term to the Natural Gas Markets. I'm sure we will get over this, and the world will go on, but I guarantee, that our Governor and our legislators and the Enviro's have insured that the economic recovery in NW Colo. will be longer and deeper than needed no matter happens globally.

Doug Monger Routt County Commissioner

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taxslave 4 years ago

To onewhocares. Your post brought tears to my eyes this morning. I've lost a lot for speaking truth, most hate me and that's ok. Just like in the days of Noah.. I was as blind as everyone else a few years back but I woke up and have been studying and reading everything for a few years now, including the crap bills in congress. btw, congress is not our friends either. both parties are in agreement on everything, they just pretend there is a difference, another distraction. Absolutely the commissioners need to be dethrowned. The citizens have the right to call an election, an honest election. The machines are rigged. What we can do is call for an OPEN, PAPER BALLET ONLY, UP FRONT AND EVERYONE WATCHES THE COUNT election...as Ripley said in Aliens, "It's the only way to be sure"....nuke it from orbite",

Again, thank you and do your best to wake your neighbor.

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GreyStone 4 years ago

taxslave,

Please,
No one hates you…they are just conspiring and plotting against you. I think everyone truly loves you..

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taxslave 4 years ago

Those that hate me the most are the churches. I went to many of them to warn them, hoping the preachers would warn their flocks from the pulpit to prepare for a major depression in this country. Even Joseph had to store up.

The true haters of truth are in most of those buildings I'm sad to say. They mocked me...so did the Commissioners, so did Senator Allard and Gov. Ritter. I went everywhere on our behalf making note that our paid officials sure weren't doing their job of staying awake.

I soon learned that Allard and Ritter were a joke as well.

I wished someone would pay me for watching their back.

I can give a list of all the churches I went to and warned...just in case any of you sit in those places and lose everything you'll know who to blame.

If the county loses everything, it's the commissioners fault. I warned them first.

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taxslave 4 years ago

This is another bombshell about to drop. Take this article seriously. Add this to everything else and the pot boils.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article24828.html

I've done my homework on this one. It's already in the senate. Beware, prepare. Pull your money out of your 401 and take the penalty, N O W. You'd end up with something rather than nothing. Quit your job if you have to to get it if it's a lot of money and downsize if you have to. Very dark days ahead. Claim a serious medical bill, do something. You might be able to move your money to a "metal" backed stock. jsmineset might be able to do this.

Costs of all food and energy, the things you need, are going to go through the roof. They'll be giving away tv's and whatever else you don't need It's already happening. Buy food this winter, not unnecessary junk from walmart that is only poisoned paint from other countries. Be smart, be informed and get in front of this tsinami. There isn't much time.

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onewhocares 4 years ago

Some one once said to me "someone is always going to hate you, so you might as well do the right thing and let them hate you for doing the right thing." I've never forgotten those words and try to remember that when dealing with controversy & finding my voice when voices need to be heard.

Thanks for your information Doug, the more we all have, the better.

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