Lawsuit in federal court challenges Colorado’s renewable energy standard

Two Washington, D.C.-based groups and a Morrison resident filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Colorado challenging the state’s renewable energy standard.

The suit, filed by the right-leaning American Tradition Partnership and American Tradition Institute, claims the state’s renewable energy standard initially approved by voters in 2004 violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The expensive energy mandate doesn’t just kill jobs and drive up prices, it wrongfully interferes with interstate commerce by disrupting the interstate power grid,” said Donald Ferguson, executive director of the partnership.

Initially, the standard required power utilities in the state to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Because utilities were far exceeding that goal, the standard has since been raised to 30 percent.

The suit claims the standard discriminates against other forms of power, such as natural gas and coal. It claims the commerce clause prohibits states from imposing burdens on the interstate market for electricity.

“Environmentalism demands policies that actually improve the environment in a manner compatible with a healthy economy,” said David Schnare, director of the institute’s Environmental Law Center. “The hard facts show that wind energy is not affordable and is not clean.”

The suit names as defendants Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Barbara Kelley, Colorado Public Utilities commissioners Ron Binz, James Tarpey and Matt Barker, and PUC director Doug Dean.

Mike Saccone, spokesman for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, said the state hadn’t yet been served with the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. Still, Saccone said the state’s renewable energy standard is constitutional and doesn’t violate the commerce clause.

The institute describes itself as an organization dedicated to the advancement of rational, free-market solutions to energy, while the partnership is a grass-roots lobbying organization aimed at fighting environmental extremism. They filed the suit along with businessman Rod Lueck, president of Techmate, a Morrison-based company that provides computer software programs for the financial industry.


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