2nd bill on energy standards fails

DENVER — Two Republican attempts to roll back renewable energy standards for rural electric associations failed in as many days in the Colorado House.

On an 8-5 party-line vote Thursday, the House Transportation & Energy Committee killed HB1113, a measure by Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, to lower to 15 percent all renewable energy standards in the state, including the 30 percent standard for investor-owned utilities such as Xcel.

A day earlier, the same committee on the same party-line vote killed HB1067, introduced by Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, to delay the standard on rural electric associations until 2025. Currently, they are required to obtain at least 20 percent of their electricity by 2020.

“Not just in the United States, but all over the world, we are finding that wherever there’s higher renewable standards, there’s higher electrical rates,” Scott told the committee. “The reason for House Bill 1113 is not to say renewable standards aren’t a good thing, but to adjust them to a level that makes sense.”

Democrats on the panel, however, disagreed, saying the standard has made Colorado a leader in renewable energy, and has created jobs and boosted economic development at the same time.

“The experts have told us that our renewable energy standard is feasible and that it includes effective provisions to protect consumers from sudden price increases,” said Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood and chairman of the committee. “The market has told us that renewable energy costs are competitive with fossil fuel costs. Reversing course would be a real setback for our state.”

Several people testified in favor of Scott’s measure, including Moffat County Commissioner John Kincaid, who said the standard on rural electric associations is hurting his county’s largest taxpayer, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, which supplies most of the power to the state’s electric associations.

Kincaid said he hoped the bill would pass and end the so-called war on rural Colorado.

That comment sparked a response from Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, who said there is no such war.

“The vote on this bill not withstanding, your voice is heard,” he said. “We’re trying very hard to help your community, with your community college, with your transportation infrastructure, and with a whole variety of different ways. It really pains me sincerely to hear folks in rural Colorado feeling like we in the Legislature don’t understand your issues or hear your problems. We do.”

Regardless, the Republicans in the House and Senate issued statements immediately after the vote denouncing Democrats, who have the majority in the Legislature, for continuing that so-called war and saying Democrats were engaged in “thoughtless consistency.”

Earlier this month, a Senate committee, also on a party-line vote, killed a bill that would have called for an outright repeal of the higher standard for the associations.



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