Printed letters, March 13, 2011

It was with great disappointment that I read Bill Grant’s column last week (“Democratic senators should kill Mesa State personnel bill”).  While I seldom agree with Grant’s perspective, I normally enjoy reading his perspective on the issues of the day. Unfortunately, his column last week was virtually devoid of facts related to House Bill 1007.

To be clear, Mesa State College classified employees have been in the driver’s seat, working with our local legislative delegation to have this bill drafted. When Grant suggests that our classified employees are “giving something away” by working on this bill, I submit that if he took time to visit with any of our classified employees, he might find that non-existent pay increases and increased employee contributions to PERA are at the top of the list of things they would be willing to do without.

Further, it seems clear Grant has forgotten that the Long Term Fiscal Stability Commission he cited in his column was chaired by none other than the man he’s urging to kill HB 1007 — Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder. Is Grant suggesting that Sen. Heath is somehow part of a grandiose Republican conspiracy?

Most people in our community understand that our institution has absorbed massive budget cuts from the state of Colorado at a time we’re experiencing record-breaking enrollment growth. The way we’ve been able to manage these budget cuts is by working together as a campus community to develop creative solutions to do more with less.

I, for one, am proud of our classified employees and I’m hopeful the General Assembly will give their bill a fair hearing this week.

TIM FOSTER, President Mesa State College

Grand Junction

Xcel works to be wise stewards of renewables

Heidi Ihrke of High Noon Solar unfortunately paints a very inaccurate picture of Xcel Energy’s recent decision to modify its Solar*Rewards program in Colorado, in her March 1 letter to the editor. In fact, Xcel Energy remains committed to creating a clean energy future for Colorado, but at a reasonable cost.

Colorado voters approved a Renewable Energy Standard in November 2004 to kick start, but not fund into perpetuity, the on-site solar industry. Xcel Energy now collects 2 percent of customers’ bills each month to support that standard — which has gone to the on-site solar industry through Solar*Rewards, for $178 million through 2010.

At the time we stared Solar*Rewards in March 2006, the goal was to keep customer costs for a new system at about 50 percent. Recently, however, incentives have been paying upwards of 75 percent of the total cost. This provides for fewer megawatts of generation and is unfair to those who have already installed solar systems over the years.

Xcel Energy must be wise stewards of its customers’ investment in renewable energy. We’re not shutting down Solar*Rewards, we’re asking to reset incentives to take advantage of the drop in costs associated with on-site solar systems.

Xcel Energy has 78 megawatts of on-site solar on its system in Colorado; it has committed to installing up to another 59 megawatts this year. We have more than 2,200 installations still to be completed from just last year, or about a half dozen a day. To question our commitment to on-site solar is otherwise ridiculous. Simply stated, the on-site solar industry will have more than enough work in the next several years.

The question on-site solar installers should be asking themselves is: Why give larger incentives to fewer customers, when spreading those enticements out to a greater potential base of consumers can only serve to increase business for the industry?

FRED EGGLESTON

Local Government and Community Affairs Manager

Xcel Energy

Grand Junction

Don’t let enviros block Elk Creek Mine expansion

It is time to tell environmental extremists to keep their noses out of our business.

These extremist environmental groups are now opposing a tiny expansion of the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset.

The Elk Creek Mine employs over 350 people in our area and is a huge local economic driver. Without this expansion, production will slow down and mine lay-offs could occur.

We have already seen difficulty at the Bowie Mine. The same could happen at Elk Creek if the mine is not allowed to pursue its business plan and its routine coal-lease modification.

The goal of these extremists is to tie projects up in endless bureaucracy. Their tool of choice? Teams of lawyers, lobbyists and community organizers. They attempt to brand themselves as groups of “concerned citizens.” But, we all know better.

Groups like Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, WildEarth Guardians and Western Slope Environmental Resource Council don’t hire dozens of attorneys and lobbyists to stop a minor coal mine expansion by holding bake-sales and getting $20 a year from local “concerned citizens.”

Their money comes from powerful outside interest groups. It is unclear what their ultimate goals are. However, we do know they are anti-coal and anti-fossil fuel. They feed on the emotions of gullible people — many from outside our area — who think they are saving the world.

Unfortunately, it falls on reasonable locals to fight and save our communities. We may not have millions of dollars to hire lawyers and fund national advertising campaigns. We may not have a team of lobbyists at our beck and call. However, we do have voices and votes. We need to tell the Forest Service, BLM and our local and national elected officials that we support the Elk Creek Mine expansion.

Most importantly, we need to tell these outside interest groups to mind their own business.

CHARLES GREEN

Grand Junction

More local input needed on park designation

On Feb. 23 at Mesa State College, I was present at a community forum regarding the possible designation of Colorado National Monument as a national park. The meeting was billed as an opportunity to ask Sen. Mark Udall — who is considering carrying a bill in Congress that would change the monument into a park — questions regarding the potential name change.

In reality, the event turned out to be nothing more than a glorified public relations opportunity for the senator and other local leaders seeking a name change.

The event was largely dominated by individuals who read from prepared statements supporting such a designation — many of whom have a vested economic self-interest in supporting such a designation, such as the head of the local Visitor and Convention Bureau, and the founder of a local outdoor clothing company — and who are not necessarily representative of the broad mosaic of our community at-large.

If Colorado National Monument is to become a park, it is an issue that should first be discussed openly and at great length within our community, as such a designation would invariably bring much change to our valley. It would result in increased development and usage of public lands surrounding the monument, and could fundamentally alter the rural ethos and cultural identity of both the monument and our community at large.

If a decision were to be made without significant local input, it would be a terrible disgrace to all who call western Colorado home. I urge all who live in the valley to call the local offices of Sens. Udall and Michael Bennet, as well as Rep. Scott Tipton, and tell them you demand your voice be heard before a change be made.

LANDON BAIN

Grand Junction

Editorial on first lady was lacking substance

The Daily Sentinel’s recent “First-lady follies” editorial strangely opined “when (Rush) Limbaugh and others are relegated to rummaging through her meal scraps for attack material, the first lady doesn’t have much to worry about.”

Perhaps not, but when western Colorado’s chronicle of record makes a few tongue-in-cheek comments from a radio talk show host the subject of an editorial, it could be that its editorial board should probably worry about finding something meaningful to write about.

VAUGHN PARK

Grand Junction


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