Last week, my wife, Kerry, and I spoke against Senate Bill 13-252 before the House Transportation and Energy Committee. SB 252 is a rural renewable energy bill that mandates 20 percent of certain rural electric associations’ power be generated by renewable energy resources by the year 2020.
This is a costly mandate to force rural electric cooperatives to increase their renewable energy portfolios by 100 percent from the 2007 legislation that had required a 10 percent baseline of renewable energy production by 2020. Those costs will be passed on to only the rural Colorado customers, not the legislators and constituents in Denver who are demanding the increases.
When SB 252 came about, my wife and I immediately wrote emails to every Colorado state senator and representative describing our objections to the bill. Attached to the emails was the link to the Energy for America YouTube video called “The Perfect Storm over Craig Colorado." I told the committee that “The Perfect Storm over Craig Colorado” now was magnified exponentially because of the recent laws proposed and enacted by the Legislature.
I said: “From the numerous ‘gun laws’ passed, which have resulted in hunters, sportsmen and even the Outdoor Channel boycotting Colorado and specifically our hunting industry here in Moffat County, to the foreboding effects from over-regulations of our coal industry and now to the new mandate on CREAs in SB 252, plus the proposed sage grouse listing as an endangered species, you are leaving us with no hope for a sustainable present and a future.
“Enough is enough. Now I ask you, specifically the Democrats of the committee, please respond with questions and comments so I can go back to Craig and Moffat County and tell them you did listen, you do care and that we will be involved and consulted in the future.”
The committee members, starting with Chairman Max Tyler, a Democrat from Lakewood said, “Yes, Frank and Kerry, we did listen, and we do care. We all have seen the video the ‘Perfect Storm over Craig Colorado.’ Many of us have visited your area, and those that haven’t will consider your open invitation to visit Craig and see firsthand what you have spoken of.”
Another Democrat on the Committee, Tracey Kraft-Tharp, of Arvada, also thanked us for our comments, confirmed she listened and acknowledged to the pain of having to choose which potential employees to lay off. Polly Lawrence, a Republican from Littleton, also expressed her experience with small-business layoffs, how challenging it was, and of her strong desire to see this bill defeated as it is written because of its certain negative impacts. Diane Mitsch Bush, from Steamboat Springs, also was gracious to us for actually taking the time to appear before the committee, displaying our emotions and articulating our frustrations. She stated her concerns for rural Northwest Colorado, and that is why she wanted some revisions before a final House reading of SB 252.
After many comments from almost all 13 members of the committee, including the chairman, with even promises of wanting revisions with some compromise to mitigate the potential strains to the rural consumers with regards to shouldering all the expense for such an onerous piece of legislation, I was given a glimmer of hope. After sitting through almost seven hours of comments, the bill was passed through this committee down party lines, five Republicans against passage and eight Democrats for SB 13-252. However, several of the Democrats expressed their desire for changes.
To our community: It is in the Senate’s and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s hands now. Call the governor’s office at 303-866-2471 as soon as possible and politely and firmly ask him to veto this bill, if it passes the Senate. I think we can accomplish positive changes by working en masse to make a difference.