Rep. Bob Rankin: I will vote 'no' on renewable energy standard proposed in legislature

— In 2007, Colorado’s rural electric associations agreed to achieve a renewable energy standard of 10 percent of their energy by 2020. In doing so, the REAs balanced a statewide interest in environmental improvement with their consumers’ concerns. Now, with a month remaining in the 2013 legislative session, environmental movement allies Sens. John Morse and Gail Schwartz and Reps. Mark Ferrandino and Crisanta Duran have introduced SB13-252, a radical rewriting of that agreement.

SB 252 will require REAs to have 25 percent of their energy provided by wind and solar sources by 2020. To reach that 25 percent standard (2 1/2 times more than the previous amount), REAs will need to invest billions (between $2 billion and $4 billion) in wind and solar resources that do not exist at this time. To reach the 25 percent renewable standard, REAs will need to seek rate increases from their customers. The estimated increase in utility rates for REA customers will be 20 percent. That’s right. If we are to reach the 25 percent renewable standard by 2020, your REA would need to raise your rates by 20 percent.

This bill will thus raise utility rates on miners while reducing the demand for coal. In short, this bill is a direct assault on rural Colorado.

At the same time, Sen. Morse, who represents Colorado Springs, has exempted his constituents from the burdens of renewable energy. Municipal utilities have no renewable requirement. Morse’s concern for the environment ends at his district’s city limits. Speaker Farrandino represents no REA territory. Sen. Gail Schwartz is repeating her mistake of 2010 when she voted for HB 1365, supporting a bill to raise rural utility rates while injuring the coal industry and the economy of rural Colorado.

The problems of SB13-252 are too numerous to detail. But legislation of this significance should never be introduced too late in the session for serious consideration and debate. SB13-252 is a rush to judgment by environmental radicals and the Democratic leadership in the legislature without thoughtful consideration of the impact on rural Colorado. Unfortunately, it is only one of many such bills this session that are damaging all of Colorado. That urbanites like Sen. Morse and Speaker Farrandino would ignore the interests of Western Colorado may be understandable, but Sen. Schwartz has constituents who will be directly affected.

As your representative, I will of course vote “no” on this bill and encourage other legislators to vote “no” as well.

Rep. Bob Rankin represents House District 57, which includes Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.

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