By RICK WAGNER
If you are like me, you might be longing for the old days of economic radicalism, 2008 through 2016. Those were the days
Sure, energy prices were high. The housing market was moribund, the federal government was buying perfectly good cars and appliances then destroying them, but the funny part was we thought it was all happening really fast.
Gosh, looking back it is hard to believe we were that naïve. Now we see what real speed in economic and cultural destruction looks like and it is quite impressive in a sort of explosive demolition way.
All it took to really fire up the process was putting a cranky and confused septuagenarian in the White House to sign executive orders, some of which may even be constitutional, for an hour a day using the focused and deliberative process of reading what they are from Post-it notes.
The procedure has created so many possible topics to discuss that it is difficult to choose just one. In terms of what’s happening in Colorado, we should discuss energy policy. Because the foolishness of the Biden administrations pronouncements on the topic dovetail nicely with the wistful, shortsighted, and expensive actions of the Hickenlooper/Polis axis.
Both the federal and state approaches to energy have at least partially the same goal. Both are tied to the post-modern idea that creating a new system means demolishing the existing one instead of modifying it.
The executive order of the Biden administration imposing a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal lands and coastlines (which is likely to become permanent) coupled with obvious hostility to pipeline transmission of any extraction-derived energy source will effectively reduce the oil and gas industry in the state to a very minimal presence. The destruction of the Keystone XL pipeline project likely indicates the end of Western Colorado’s hope for the Jordan Cove pipeline. That project would have allowed liquefied natural gas to travel to an area where it could be distributed to markets with more favorable pricing and keep alive the viability of natural gas production in Western Colorado.
Counties in this part of the state that rely on taxes paid by oil and gas producers are looking at drastic reductions in revenue. When the shortfalls become critical, and it will not take long, counties will probably look to the state for some type of backfill of their lost revenue, which will only increase the Legislature’s desire to raise taxes (or more likely fees) on something or everything.
Compounding this will be the state’s continuing subsidy and push for unreliable and insufficiently developed renewable energy sources. Already the state has mandated a 30% requirement for larger utilities to produce their power by wind, solar or biomass with the state demanding 100% of the power to be generated by these types of technologies by 2050 for companies serving more than 500,000 customers.
The state is pursuing this energy goal by providing a sales, use and property tax exemption for residential solar power equipment. They also have not forgotten to place disincentives for energy use to address the demand side of the equation by continuing the two-tiered billing system for electric power during the summer.
This really is nothing more than an air conditioning tax. Power use in the summer for other uses of power, mainly lighting, go down as the days lengthen.
Remember, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, now a political creature of the left, has allowed Xcel Energy to charge one rate for power consumption up to 500 kWh and a rate 81% higher for power used above that number.
The website electricitylocal.com estimates the average home in Colorado uses 706 kWh of electricity per month. That is averaging all the communities in the state, including those in the higher elevations that are by their nature cooler in the summer. Places that are substantially hotter, like much of western Colorado, will find that number substantially higher. The purpose of this is clear — to force residents to be less comfortable and lower demand rather than address mounting electrical needs with reliable and less expensive production methods.
State control over energy production and use has been the dream of centralized government enthusiasts since the 1930s and the electrification process in America. It may be partly about an environmental concern, but it is mostly about power — and not the kind used to run your toaster.
Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney. Email him at email@example.com. His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.