Colorado House Bill 10-1365 has been erroneously named the “Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act.”
The name sure sounds good, but if the bill passes, Colorado stands to lose jobs, and most consumers will pay higher energy prices.
Gov. Bill Ritter talks about jobs that will be created, but some very staunch supporters of the natural gas industry say that not only will Colorado lose coal jobs, but that this bill will promote out-of-state natural gas industry jobs.
In an effort to ease our pain, supporters of the bill tell us that the lost jobs will be from out-of-state coal mines because Xcel’s plants use out-of-state coal.
However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that two of three Xcel plants on the Front Range targeted for switching from coal to natural gas have been using primarily Colorado coal.
We not only stand to lose well-paying, long-lasting Colorado jobs, but we also face substantially higher energy prices.
The Denver Post recently reported that even without this huge fuel switching legislation that “Xcel Energy on (March 15, 2010) filed for a $52.7 million rate increase for this spring, raising the average bill about 8 percent — to cover the increased winter costs of fuel and energy. An increase in the cost of natural gas and in the demand for energy during the cold winter months led to the added costs, the utility said in a statement.”
“It is a dollar-for-dollar pass-through,” Xcel spokesman Tom Henley said in a statement, according to the Post.
Even though Xcel would like for us to believe that it will not make a penny on this legislation because higher gas costs are a “dollar-for-dollar pass-through,” they fail to point out that the gas-friendly Colorado Public Utilities Commission will allow Xcel to make a bundle if they modify their plants to eliminate the use of coal.
For instance, Colorado Energy News reported that “in Xcel’s latest rate case in December, the PUC approved a 10.5 percent return on invested capital.”
This means that we will not only overpay for our electricity because of high-priced natural gas, but we will also pay the cost plus an additional rate of return to have Xcel retool or replace their Front Range plants when they do away with low-cost Colorado coal.
All of us in the Yampa Valley need to understand that we buy our electricity through Yampa Valley Electric Association, but that YVEA purchases nearly all of our electricity from Xcel Energy.
And even though the electricity for our homes and businesses in the Yampa Valley basically is generated at our local coal-fired power plants, of which Xcel is part owner, when Xcel decides to increase costs on the Front Range, the Yampa Valley gets hit with the costs, as well.
Call our state senators at 303-866-2316 and tell them to vote no on this bad piece of legislation. Sen. Al White and Rep. Randy Baumgardner on our side, but they can let you know who needs to be contacted to help kill this bill.
Ray Dubois is the president of Trapper Mining Inc.