Renewable energy mandate bill passes Monday in Senate

— The Colorado Senate passed this week a bill that aims to increase renewable energy mandates on rural electricity cooperatives from 10 to 25 percent by 2020.

Senate Bill 13-252 passed the Senate late Monday by a vote of 18-17. Two Democrats, Mary Hodge, of Brighton, and Lois Tochtrop, of Thornton, joined Senate Republicans in opposition of the measure.

The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

In a news release issued Monday, Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, touted the bill’s passage, saying it brings Colorado one step closer to a comprehensive and robust statewide clean energy strategy.

Morse, along with Senate Majority Whip Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, is a primary sponsor of the bill.

“This bill will help clean our air while providing rural jobs,” Morse said in the release. “Renewable energy prices are dropping consistently, while the cost of fossil fuels is unstable. We need to make this investment now to ensure that energy prices stay steady, and we are not relying on dirty fossil fuels.”

The release also makes a point to note language in the bill that caps increases to customer utility bills at 2 percent.

Jim Van Someren, communications manager for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in Westminster, said Tuesday that the 2 percent cap is an unrealistic expectation.

“No one has been able to fully explain what that means or how that is going to work, even the bill’s sponsor,” Van Someren said.

Tri-State operates Craig Station and owns Trapper Mine.

“A 20 to 25 percent increase is probably a more reasonable expectation considering infrastructure costs over the next six years or so are estimated at $4 billion,” Van Someren said. “Because we’re a cooperative, those costs will be passed on to our members and their customers.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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