Gone with the Wind: IRS can’t measure effectiveness of $14 billion dollars in green energy subsidies

July 21, 2015 by michael · Comments Off
Filed under: New Energy Economy, preferred energy, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy 

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that IRS tax subsidies to green energy operators have resulted in $15.1 billion in foregone revenue to the federal government, $13.7 billion of which was lost to renewable energy projects.

The GAO has sounded its concern that Congress cannot evaluate the effectiveness of Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or Production Tax Credit (PTC) programs funded by this money. Evaluation becomes difficult when “the total generating capacity [the projects] supported is unknown because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not required to collect project level data from all taxpayers claiming the ITC or report the data it does collect, nor is it required to collect project-level data for the PTC.” So, as of now, any decisions made by Congress regarding the extension of the ITC or PTC are based on rough estimates, an environmental moral compass, or just how a representative is feeling that particular day.

What data has been reported suggests a certain government addiction to renewable energy subsides. From 2004 to 2013, around 2,000 renewable energy projects were built adding 69,000MW of generating capacity. This number, however, is dwarfed by the 157,000MW of generating capacity added by just the 500 traditional utility scale electricity generation projects built during the same time. For a tenth of the cost of renewable projects, traditional energy projects were able to generate more than double the energy.

In addition to green energy subsides, most states have implemented some form of a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires a certain percentage of the electricity coming from retail service providers must be obtained from renewable sources. This artificial increase in demand along with subsides may be giving renewables like solar and wind a better chance than the technology in its current state deserves.

The GAO concludes that eliminating the ITC/PTC will almost certainly decrease the number of new renewable energy projects. Without these tax subsides green energy developer’s returns would decline and a rise in prices to compensate for the withdrawal of federal support would turn renewable energy into a luxury item.

Gina Larson is a Future Leaders intern and is currently a student at American University, majoring in International Relations.

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Kansas pushes back against EPA Clean Power Plan, changes state renewables mandate to voluntary

Unlike Colorado’s failed attempt to provide state oversight to proposed Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” regulations, Kansas’ legislature has passed requirements for any CPP state implementation plan, including no plan at all, should it conflict with ongoing litigation against the EPA’s power to bring forth the CPP:

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill setting parameters for how the state complies with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan.

The bill, HB 2233, requires state agencies responsible for drafting a state implementation plan (SIP) to examine potential electricity rate impacts that may arise from complying with the EPA rule to address CO2 emissions from existing power plants. The law mandates that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identify ways to avoid unreasonable costs under a best system of emissions reductions, which may include emissions trading or emissions averaging across the generation fleet. Brownback signed the bill into law on 28 May.

The law creates an oversight committee of state lawmakers that will track the progress of and vote on the SIP. The Clean Power Plan Implementation Study Committee will run from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017.

Like other states such as New Mexico, Kansas state agencies have called the EPA’s CPP into question, “citing concerns over its legality, federal overreach into grid reliability and a limited timeline for implementation.”

Those concerns have prompted Kansas to join other state attorneys general in legal challenges targeting EPA’s ability to bring forth regulations like those under the CPP:

Attorney general Derek Schmidt (R) is among 19 state attorneys general who have called on EPA to withdraw its proposed CO2 standards for new power plants, and the state is participating in two lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan proposal.

The new law allows state regulators to not submit a plan if the attorney general determines that such a plan would conflict with Kansas’ legal position in current or pending legal challenges against the rule.

In testifying for Colorado’s Electricity Consumers’ Protection Act (SB 258), attorney Mike Nasi outlined possible legal objections to the EPA’s proposed rules.

Colorado’s SB 258 would have tasked the Public Utilities Commission, with input from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as well as approval from the state legislative body, with creating a CPP SIP for the state that considered costs and required a full, public, and deliberative process rather than unilateral executive agency rulemaking from CDPHE under the Governor John Hickenlooper’s direction.

With the defeat of the bill, Governor Hickenlooper announced that, unlike Kansas’ measured approach, Colorado would capitulate to the EPA’s CPP and push forward with state implementation.

***

Colorado environmentalists and renewable energy advocates enjoy touting other states’ efforts on issues including renewable energy standards and renewable subsidies.

But this year, Kansas modified its RES, making the mandate a “voluntary goal”:

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R) yesterday signed into law a bill converting the state’s renewable energy standard to a voluntary goal.

The bill, SB 91, replaces the state’s standard, which required 20pc renewable energy use by 2020, with a voluntary target on the same timetable. SB 91 also exempts existing renewable energy facilities in the state, mostly wind farms, from property taxes and gives new renewable energy facilities a 10-year property tax exemption.

Wind accounted for 21.7pc of Kansas’ generation mix in 2014, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
….
While the bill was supported by some state wind industry and business groups, environmentalists have criticized it, saying it should have at least called for a higher voluntary goal to give utilities “something to aspire to.”

In a free market, utilities and others involved with energy production will voluntarily move to where the market leads–they will “aspire to” serve their customers with an energy fuel mix that best suits the state’s and individual utility’s needs and consumer’s wants.

Government should not be picking energy or electricity winners and losers, and moving from a legal mandate to voluntary guidelines is a step in the right direction for free market energy, as is limiting a property tax exemption from permanent to a sunset at 10 years.

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June 11 Colorado Energy Roundup–Battle brewing over possible Colorado mine closure; Rep. Polis keeps options open on anti-fracking ballot measures

New Belgium Brewing Company has long touted its environmental sensitivity as part of its corporate culture and marketing–featuring its commitment to sustainability and other environmental goals prominently on its web page and in press releases and other materials.

But that support, and past funding of radical environmental groups, has drawn the ire of another Colorado business and its supporters on Colorado’s western slope, who face shutdown of the nearby Colowyo Coal Mine because of the exact policies fostered by their Front Range counterparts.

In other words, the brewery may have finally blown a (fat) tire on its way to greener pastures and killing fellow Colorado businesses and jobs:

Craig — Liquor stores and restaurants across Craig are pulling Colorado craft beers off their shelves due to the beer companies’ financial support to WildEarth Guardians, the environmental group that put Colowyo Coal Mine at risk of being shutdown.

Stockmen’s Liquor pulled 12 brands of beer — including New Belgium Brewery — because they are listed as WildEarth Guardians supporters.

“We pulled those beers because their support of WildEarth Guardians… who said their ultimate goal is to shut down coal mines,” said Lori Gillam, owner of Stockmen’s. “Craig is a coal mine town.”

WildEarth Guardians has a list of business supporters on its website, and New Belgium and Breckenridge Brewery are among their backers. Yet, after this story was published, the WildEarth Guardians removed the list of supporters off of its website. However, readers can view the cached website by clicking here.

Advised of the brewing Craig brouhaha over its support of WEG, New Belgium released this statement:

“At New Belgium Brewing, we support non-profit partners who advocate for healthy watersheds. Wild Earth Guardians first contacted New Belgium in 2008 seeking grant money for restoration projects along the Colorado River. We supported these efforts because Colorado businesses, residents and the environment are dependent upon sound water management,” according to the press release. “Specific to any work Wild Earth Guardians has done regarding the ColoWyo and Trapper mines, we were unaware of it at the time and that is outside the scope of our grant allocations. We have no further funding pending at this time.”

But this measured and somewhat distancing response strays from previous environmental forays for the company, who helped sponsor “Frack Free Colorado” and an anti-fracking rally in 2012, among other anti-fracking activities.

New Belgium started a political action committee in 2014 to help candidates it believed furthered environmental policies the company supported.

But this battle has just begun. More than 900 residents in northwest Colorado gathered to hear what the closure of the coal mine might mean:

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson gave the federal Office of Surface Mining 120 days to bring the permit into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, a time frame that left company and state officials flabbergasted.

“I believe that public involvement and compliance with NEPA are fundamental to federal agencies like OSM making informed decisions concerning federal resources,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Mike King on Monday in a statement.

“However, the court has provided an unrealistically short timeframe to remedy a complicated NEPA process; threatening a mine shut-down on a federal permitting decision that has been in place for eight years and that Colowyo has been implementing during that time is an unacceptable result,” he said.

King said the state is weighing legal options, including joining a Tri-State appeal of the judge’s order and request for a stay. If granted, a stay would allow the mine to remain open until the appeals process is concluded.

Without that, it’s possible the mine could be forced to close after 120 days, putting at risk the livelihoods of Colowyo’s 220 employees as well as the region’s locally owned businesses supported indirectly by the mine.

It was a lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians that prompted Judge Jackson’s May 8 decision.

Moffat County liquor store owner Lori Gillam told The Colorado Statesman that the brewing companies supported WildEarth Guardians have been removed from her store’s shelves.

“I have 12 holes on my shelves right now because of them supporting WildEarth Guardians,” Gillam told the Statesman.

“WildEarth Guardians has said they want to ban coal — they want it gone — and we’re a coal-mining town. It’s important for us to support the people who support us and not the people who want to destroy our community,” Gillam said.

We’ve included the entire list of WildEarth Guardians’ corporate supporters, in addition to the link above, in case the cached version is removed.

***

Despite Governor John Hickenlooper’s attempts to downplay any possible fracking measures on 2015 local ballots or the 2016 November election, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis (R-CO) has not sounded the death knell for any possible anti-fracking proposals in the near future, and given his position in sponsoring a large number of those scuttled in 2014, may have more of an influence than the governor:

Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, who backed the ballot proposals and then agreed to remove them a year ago, says it’s too early to say what might be proposed for the 2016 Colorado ballot.

“Given the pending Fort Collins and Longmont lawsuits that will hopefully confirm local authority to regulate fracking, and that we are 18 months out from the 2016 election, I can no more predict whether a ballot initiative is needed or would be viable in 2016 than I can predict who is going to win the World Series that year,” Polis told the Daily Camera. “But if the governor is clairvoyant, I’d love to schedule a trip to Vegas with him soon.”

Polis sees more uncertainty in the outcomes of the Fort Collins and Longmont appeals than we do. A Boulder County judge overturned Longmont’s fracking ban last July. A Larimer County judge overturned Fort Collins’ five-year fracking moratorium in August. Everywhere it has contested such community actions, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association has won, citing preemption by the state, which “fosters” oil and gas development by statute.

The Boulder Daily Camera editorial concludes that Hickenlooper’s “declaration of surrender” on fracking is, the editorial board hopes, “premature.”

Only a few people like Polis–who has the desire and the dollars to make ballot measures happen–know more about possible anti-fracking measures than the governor.

And for now, it appears the Congressman is keeping all options on the table.

***

WildEarth Guardians would like to thank the following businesses for generously supporting our work. If you would like to be added to our “Businesses for Guardians” webpage, please contact us today and learn how!

Advantage Energy Solutions, LLC, Corrales, New Mexico
Agua Fria Nursery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Altitude Salon, Englewood, Colorado
Andiamo!, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Arizona Cyclist, Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Nature Aquatics, Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona
Ark Bookstore, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Armendaris Ranch, New Mexico
Armstrong McCall Of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Arrows and Eskers, Los Angeles, CA
Art For Transformation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Artichoke Café, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Asian Adobe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Asian Palate, Buena Vista, Colorado
Aspen Websites, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Atrisco Café and Bar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ava Morris Pottery, Tesuque, New Mexico
Avanyu At La Posada, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Aveda – Rachel Thompson, Denver, Colorado
Aveda Park Meadows, Littleton, Colorado
Aventouras, Evergreen, Colorado
Avery Brewing Co, Boulder, Colorado
Baca St Yoga, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar, Boulder, Colorado
Bahti Indian Arts, Tucson, Arizona
Banfi Vintners, Glen Head, New York
Bank of the West, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Barb’s Frame of Mind, Tucson, Arizona
Baroness Wine Distributor, Denver, Colorado
Beadweaver, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bear Mountain Lodge, Silver City, New Mexico
Beauty & The Beads, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bellaluca Café Italiano, Truth or Consequence, New Mexico
Benihana, Denver, Colorado
Bernard Ewell Fine Arts Appraisals, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Betty’s Bath And Day Spa, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bhakti Chai, Boulder, Colorado
Big Sky Community Corporation, Big Sky, Montana
Bike Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bike’n’sport, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bill’s European Auto Repair, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bioneers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bioshield Paint Co, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bird’s Eye View GIS, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bishop’s Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bittersweet Designs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Black Mesa Winery, Velarde, New Mexico
Black Range Lodge, Kingston, New Mexico
Blue Canyon Gallery, Magdalena, New Mexico
Blue Corn Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Blue Willow Restaurant, Tucson, Arizona
Chaine Pena Business Body

“We support WildEarth Guardians because we believe in a wild world that supports all wild creatures.” ~ Chaine Pena, Boutique Specialist and Yoga Teacher at BODY Santa Fe

BODY of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bolder World, Boulder, Colorado
Bookworks, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Boulder Beer Company, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Spa, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Theater, Boulder, Colorado
Boulderado Hotel, Boulder, Colorado
Bounce Back Integrative Veterinary Rehabilitation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Breckenridge Brewing Co, Denver, Colorado
Brian Cobble Etchings, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Briar Rose Bed And Breakfast, Boulder, Colorado
Bright Funds, San Francisco, California
Broken Saddle Riding Co, Cerrillos, New Mexico
Broken Spoke, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Brooklyn Pizza Company, Tucson, Arizona
Buffalo Thunder Resort, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Buglet Solar, Golden, Colorado
Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Butterfly Thai Yoga, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cafe Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Café Castro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Café Dominic, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cafe Marcel, Tucson, Arizona
Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Captain Marble, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cardrageous, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Caring Clinic, Boulder, Colorado
Carole LaRoche Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Benavides, Taos, New Mexico
Casa De Brio Equestrian Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa De Estrellas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Natura, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Nova, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cate Moses Public Relations, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Celestial Massage, Denver, Colorado
Celtic Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Center For Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
CG Higgins Confections, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chapare, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chapelle Street Casitas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Charmed Planet Photography, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cheesecake Factory, Boulder, Colorado
Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver, Colorado
Chile Shop, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chocolate Maven, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chocolate Smith, Santa Fe, New Mexico
ChoLon, Denver, Colorado
Christine Loizeaux, Santa Barbara, California
Christy’s Sports, Denver, Colorado
Church of Satin, Tucson, Arizona
Cibolo Nature Center, Boerne, Texas
Cid’s Food Market, Taos, New Mexico
Circo Vino, Tucson, Arizona
City O’ City, Denver, Colorado
Clafoutis, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Claire Haye Gallery, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
Clayworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cleopatra Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Colorado Ballet, Denver, Colorado
Colorado Hot Air Balloon, Dillon, Colorado
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, Divide, Colorado
Comedy Works, Denver, Colorado
Common Era, Boulder and Denver, Colorado
Communications Infrastructure Inc., Stevensville, MT
Confluence Kayak, Denver, Colorado
Connolly Ranch, Napa, California
Conservation Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado
Contemporary Driftwood Furniture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Corks The Wine Store, Denver, Colorado
Corrales Solar, Corrales, NM
Cosbar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Costume Salon, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cottonwood Printing, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Counter Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Creativity For Peace, Glorieta, New Mexico
Critters and Me, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cupcake Clothing, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cupcakeology, La Vernia, Texas
Daily Grind, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Daisy Paw, Louisville, Colorado
Davis Therapeutic Massage, Denver, Colorado
DDC Freight Processing Outsourcing LLC, Evergreen, Colorado
Dean Allan Design, Denver, Colorado
Debbie DiCarlo, Richfield, Ohio
DecorAsian, Longmont, Colorado
Deer Hammer Distillery, Buena Vista, Colorado
Delectables, Tucson, Arizona
Dell Fox Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dennis Conner’s America’s Cup Experience, San Diego, California
Denver Bike Sharing, Denver, Colorado
Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado
Denver Film Society, Denver, Colorado
Denver Museum of Science and Nature, Denver, Colorado
Denver Urban Homesteading, Denver, Colorado
Denver Zoological Foundation, Denver, Colorado
Desert Bloom Florist, Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Desert Dwellers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Design Training Collaborative, Placitas, New Mexico
Dickey’s BBQ, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dinner For Two, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Direct Power And Water Corporation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dirty Dawgs, Tucson, Arizona
Doodlets, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dublin Square, San Diego, California
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango, Colorado
Durango Cyrus Café, Durango, Colorado
Dust in the Wind, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dusty Dog Ranch, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Earthship Biotechture, Taos, New Mexico
East by Southwest, Durango, Colorado
Ecco Espresso Gelato, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eddie Bauer First Ascent, Bellevue, Washington
Eden Medispa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Dorado Hotel & Spa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Farol, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Meson, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Meze, Taos, New Mexico
El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico
El Rancho De Las Golondrinas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Tesoro Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eldora Mountain Resort, Nederland, Colorado
Eldorado Country Pet, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eldorado Physical Therapy, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Elevation Coffee, Taos, New Mexico
Emerald Earth, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Emily Branden Creations, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Envision, Boulder, Colorado
Eric Reinemann Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ernesto Mayans Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eskimo Ski And Board Shop, Centennial, Colorado
eTown, Boulder, Colorado
Evolve Fitness, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eye Candy Graphics, Denver, Colorado
Fair Wheel Bikes, Tucson, Arizona
Fair Laundromat, Tucson, Arizona
Far Flung Adventures, El Prado, New Mexico
Farfel’s Farm, Boulder, Colorado
Farina Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fast Frames of LoDo, Denver, Colorado
Fat Tire Cycles, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Feathered Friends, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Findley Lake Nature Center, Findley Lake, New York
Fine Art Framers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Firebusters, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Flagstaff Sports Exchange, Flagstaff, Arizona
Food Conspiracy Co-op, Tucson, Arizona
Foreign Traders, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Foundation For Deep Ecology, San Francisco, California
Four Seasons Encantado Resort, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fourth World Cottage Industry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Frame of Mind, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Frame Shop of Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Frog Works, Littleton, Colorado
Fuego Baseball of the Pecos League, Houston, Texas
Gaiam Living, Boulder, Colorado
Gale Gotto Fine Art Photography, Golden, Colorado
Galloway Images, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Garcia St. Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gathering Of the Nations Miss Indian World, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gauchezco Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina
Gearing Up!, Taos, New Mexico
Gelato Benissimo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Gila House Hotel/ Gallery 400, Silver City, New Mexico
Glacier Club, Durango, Colorado
Glenna Goodacre Studios, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gold Hill Inn, Boulder, Colorado
Goodman Realty Group, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gorge Bar and Grill, Taos, New Mexico
Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton, Colorado
Grand Rabbits Toy Shoppe, Boulder, Colorado
Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver, Colorado
Great Frame Up, Boulder, Colorado
Great Old Broads For Wilderness, Durango, Colorado
Great Southwest Adventures, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gregory Sellars Window Cleaning, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Grove Market & Café, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Guadalupe Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Guadalupano Imports, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gulf Restoration Network, New Orleans, Louisiana
Gypsy Jewel, Boulder, Colorado
Haagen Dazs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hacienda Nicholas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hair, Mind And Body, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Haircut Place, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar, Boulder, Colorado
Harbor Court Hotel, San Francisco, California
Harp of the Spirit, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Harry’s RoadHouse, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hazel & Dewey, Denver, Colorado
Heart Gallery of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Heath Concerts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Herb Store, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Herbs Etc., Santa Fe, New Mexico
Heritage Hotels And Resorts, Albuquerque, New Mexico
High Desert Healthcare & Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
High Desert Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
High Finance Restaurant, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hiland Frames, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Himalayas Restaurant, Boulder, Colorado
Holland Marketing—Out of Africa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Holly In Hanoi, Boulder, Colorado
Hotel Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
House of Commons Tea Room, Denver, Colorado
Houston Wholesale Cars LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hutton Broadcasting, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hydro Flask, Bend, Oregon
Ice House Lodge, Telluride, Colorado
Il Piatto, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ima Glass Studio, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Imbibe, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In Transit, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Incana Designs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
India Palace, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn And Spa At Loretto, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn At Cherry Creek, Denver, Colorado
Inn At Sunrise Springs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn of The Anasazi, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn on the Alameda, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Insight Construction, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Insituto De Ecologia Unam, Mexico
I-Scoot, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Isleta Eagle Golf Course, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jack Hadley Music, Boulder, Colorado
Jackson Hole Conservaton Alliance, Jackson, Wyoming
Jambo Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jazzercise, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jemez Springs Bath House, Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Jess Alford Photography, Tijeras, New Mexico
Jewel Mark, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jinja Bar & Bistro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
John Fielder’s Colorado, Denver, Colorado
Jon Paul Gallery, S. Lake Tahoe, California
Joni Bilderback, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Joseph Thomas Colorado Images, Colorado
Kanon Collective, Denver, Colorado
Kathy Olshefsky, Artist, Lamy, New Mexico
Katydid Books and Music, Jerome, Arizona
Kelli Brown, Artist, San Antonio, Texas
Kendall Mountain Café, Silverton, Colorado
Keshi, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Keva Juice, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Keystone Prairie Dogs, Auburn, Washington
Kimpton Hotels, San Francisco, California
Kioti, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kip’s Grill & Cantina, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Kokopelli Rafting Adventure, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kristen Olsen, Artist, Denver, Colorado
La Boca, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Casa Sena, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Cocina de Luz, Telluride, Colorado
LaKind Dental Group, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Mesa of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Montañita Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
La Posada, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Siringitu Cafe, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lara Nickel, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Laroche Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Larry’s Hats and Antiques, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lars Strong, Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Late Nite Grafix, Inc., Santa Fe, New Mexico
Laughing Lizard Inn and Cafe, Jemez, New Mexico
Lawrene Huff, Artist, Kamogawa-Shi
Le Bon Voyage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Leanin Tree Museum, Boulder, Colorado
Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lexus of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Linson’s Design Source, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Liquid Light Glass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Living Light Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
Los Poblanos Organics, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Los Rios River Runners, Taos, New Mexico
Lucille’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lumenscapes, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lyric Brick Company, Jamestown, Colorado
Madame M’s Enchanted Parlor, Taos, New Mexico
Mandrill’s Gym, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway Co., Manitou Springs, Colorado
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Marja Custom Catering, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“We support WildEarth Guardians because we believe in protecting New Mexico’s wild animals and the Rio Grande.” ~ Mark Gonzales, Mark Pardo Salon Spa in Albuquerque

Mark Pardo Salon Spa, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mark White Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Marsello Brushwork, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Massage Therapist Debra Kopp, Boulder, Colorado
Massage Therapist – Valerie Baldovi, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Masterful Mosaics, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mavrick Lobe, Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Maya, Santa Fe, New Mexico
McGuckin Hardware, Boulder, Colorado
Mediterranean Restaurant, Boulder, Colorado
Mercury Cafe, Denver, Colorado
Mercury Framing, Boulder, Colorado
Michael Thomas Coffee Roasters, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico
Mira, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mojave West, Sausalito, California
Mouthfuls, Denver, Colorado
Museum Hill Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nancy Bazar, Artist, Seattle, Washington
Nancy Brown Custom Jeweler, Santa Fe, New Mexico
National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, DC
National Distributing Company, Albuquerque, New Mexico
National Ecological Observation Network, Boulder, Colorado
Nature’s Own, Boulder, Colorado
Nevad Wier, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
New Mexico Biopark Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico Family Chiropractic, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico Technet, Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Planet Beer Co, Boulder, Colorado
New Rochester Hotel, Durango, Colorado
New Sheridan Hotel, Telluride, Colorado
New York Deli, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Night Sky Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nila Bindu Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ohori’s Coffee Roasters, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort, Ojo Caliente, New Mexico
Ojo Sarco Pottery, Chamisal, New Mexico
Old Wood, Las Vegas, New Mexico
Origins, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Orlando’s New Mexican Café, Taos, New Mexico
Osprey Packs, Cortez, Colorado
Osuna Nursery And Greenhouses, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Ouray Meyers, Artist, Taos, New Mexico
Outdoor Divas, Boulder, Colorado
Outside Magazine, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paige Barton Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paley Center For Media, New York, New York
Pamela Wilson, Occupational Therapist, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pamoja Project, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pantry Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Parlour Salon, Denver, Colorado
Parts Unknown, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pasta Jays, Boulder, Colorado
Patagonia, Denver, Colorado
Patagonia, Reno, NV
Paws & Claws Pet Salons, Tucson, Arizona
Payne’s Nurseries, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peaceful Paws For Dogs, Boyceville, Wisconsin
Peas ‘n’ Pod, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pecos Valley Grassfed Beef, Ribera, New Mexico
Penny Weights, New Canaan, Connecticut
Pepper Pod Restaurant, Hudson, Colorado
Petco, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peter Noom Carpentry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peyote Bird, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peyton Wright Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Colorado
Photo Eye Books And Prints, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pierpont Cabinets, Lamy, New Mexico
Pink Fog Studies, Glendale, Colorado
Pizza Centro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pizzaria Espiritu, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Planetarium At SF Community College, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Plants of the Southwest, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Plant Trees 4 Life, Aspen, Colorado
Posters of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Potomac Garage Solutions, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Prairie Dog Glass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pranzo Italian Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Proscape Landscape Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Prost Brewing, Denver, Colorado
Purple Adobe Lavendar Farm, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Purple Sage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pyramid Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
R. Mole Sculpture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rancho De San Juan, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ray Rafiti Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado
RC Bicycles, Tucson, Arizona
Re-Threads, Taos, New Mexico
REI Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
REI Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rift Gallery, Rinconada, New Mexico
Rioja, Denver, Colorado
Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Rock, Paper, Scissors Spa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rodeo Plaza Flowers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rooftop Pizzaria, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Root Down, Denver, Colorado
Rosebud Video Productions, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Running Hub, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sacred Geology, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Salon Del Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Salsa Rueda, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Saltanah Dancers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sam’s No 3 Diner, Denver, Colorado
Samuel Design Group, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Isidro Permaculture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sanctuary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sanctuary Home, Denver, Colorado
Sandra Rhodes Crafts, New Haven, Connecticut
Santa Fe Baking Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Bar And Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Basket Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Candle, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Computerworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Dry Goods, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Film Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Hemp, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Mountain Adventures LLC, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Pedicabs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Permaculture, Inc, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Reporter, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Stoneworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Sun Monthly, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santacafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Schaffner Press, Tucson, Arizona
Scheinbaum & Russek Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Secret River Design, Washington DC
Sense Clothing, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Serac Adventure Films, Boulder, Colorado
Seventh Ray Skin Care, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Shake Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Shevek & Co. Restaurant, Silver City, New Mexico
Shiloh Pet Supply, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sierra Grande Lodge, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Silver Gate Lodging, Silver Gate, Montana
Silver Sun, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Silverton Mountain, Silverton, Colorado
Silver Sea Jewelry, Tucson, Arizona
Sister Hawk, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Six Directions Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
Ska Brewing, Durango, Colorado
Sky Bar, Tucson, Arizona
Smith Family Garden Luau, Kapaa, Hawaii
Smith Optics, Ketchum, Idaho
Snooze SouthGlenn, Centennial, Colorado
SOL Lingerie, Denver, Colorado
SOSF Bike Tours, San Francisco, California
Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre, Trinidad, Colorado
Southern Wine & Spirits of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Southwest Airlines Co, Dallas, Texas
Southwest Nordic Center, Taos, New Mexico
Spa Namaste, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Spears Horn Architects, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sputnik, Denver, Colorado
Square Root Salon, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Squeaky Clean Car Wash, Santa Fe, New Mexico
St. Julien Hotel, Boulder, Colorado
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Starbucks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stella Luna, Taos, New Mexico
Stephanie Huerta, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Steve Wong, Dream Analysis, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Steven Lemle, Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stone Age Climbing Gym, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Stone Forest Inc, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stray Dog Cantina, Taos, New Mexico
Studio Nia Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Studio Thrive Fitness, Denver, Colorado
Sweet Action Ice Cream, Denver, Colorado
Sweet Medicine Enterprises, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Syrup, Denver, Colorado
Taj Mahal Cuisine of India, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Taos Fly Shop, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Inn, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Mesa Brewing, El Prado, New Mexico
Taos Pilates Studio, El Prado, New Mexico
Taos Pueblo Tourism, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Ski Valley, Taos, New Mexico
Tattered Covers, Denver, Colorado
Teahouse, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Teca Tu, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Telluride Brewing Company, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Mountainfilm, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Ski and Golf Club, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Sports, Telluride, Colorado
Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe, New Mexico
10th Mountain Division Huts, Aspen, Colorado
Terra Bella, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Terra Flora, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tesuque Glassworks, Tesuque, New Mexico
Thai Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Barber’s Shop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Bike Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Book Stop, Tucson, Arizona
The Golden Eye, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Lotus, Madrid, New Mexico
The MacSpa, Denver, Colorado
The Medwick Foundation, Tucson, Arizona
The Mining Exchange Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Oxygen Spa, Silver Springs, Maryland
The Screen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Shed, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Spanish Table, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The View Restaurant At The Historic Crags Lodge, Estes Park, Colorado
Theobroma Chocolatier, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thirty Mile Resort, Lakewood, Colorado
Three Dog Bakery, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thru the Lens, Durango, Colorado
Tia Sophia, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tierra Hermosa Pottery & Supply, Taos, New Mexico
Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona
Tom Bihn, Seattle, Washington
Tony Bonanno Photography, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tom Brady, Astrologer, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tomasita’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Touched by Flowers, Vero Beach, Florida
Trader Joe’s, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico
Trading Post Cafe, Ranchos De Taos, New Mexico
Tranquility Floatation Massage & Healing Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Trattoria Stella, Denver, Colorado
Travel Bug, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tucson Herb Store, Tucson, Arizona
Tucson Thrift Shop, Tucson, Arizona
Twisted Pine Brewing Co, Boulder, Colorado
Uncharted Outposts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Veda Spa & Salon, Denver, Colorado
Video Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vinaigrette, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vine Street Pub & Brewery, Denver, Colorado
Visa-LANB, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vital Yoga, Denver, Colorado
Wallaroo Hat Company, Boulder, Colorado
Walnut Room, Denver, Colorado
Walter Burke Catering, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wash Park Grille, Denver, Colorado
Watercourse Foods, Denver, Colorado
Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Colorado
Whole Foods, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Whoo’s Donuts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, Colorado
Wild Birds Unlimited, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wild Earth Llama Adventures, Taos, New Mexico
Wild Faces Wild Places Photography
Wileyware, Seattle, Washington
William Matthews Gallery, Denver, Colorado
Wines Off Wynkoop, Denver, Colorado
Wingswest Birding Tours, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wise Fool New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wolf Den Bed and Breakfast, Twin Lakes, Colorado
WolfHorse Outfitters, Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness, New Mexico
Woodhouse Day Spa, Denver, Colorado
Yin Yang Chinese Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Yoganow, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Z2 Entertainment, Boulder, Colorado
Zaplin-Lampert Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Zen Dog Boutique, Denver, Colorado
Zia Diner, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Zoe Boutique, Tucson, Arizona
Zoe & Guido’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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June 4 Energy Roundup: Hickenlooper vs. EPA, New Mexico enviro officials cast doubt on Clean Power Plan, and the return of ‘green’ billionaire Tom Steyer

June 4, 2015 by michael · Comments Off
Filed under: Archive, Environmental Protection Agency, Legislation, New Energy Economy, PUC 

The Independence Institute’s Amy Oliver Cooke will moderate a free panel on June 17 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, discussing the embattled Colowyo Coal Mine in northwest Colorado:

“The Coming Storm of Federal Energy Regulations and Their Impact on Colorado Business”

Are you concerned about the future of the Colowyo Coal Mine? Want to know more about costly new EPA regs on carbon and ozone??

Join our panel of experts to get the facts and get your questions answered.

WHEN: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 17 (doors open at 5 p.m.; cash bar)

WHERE: Strings Music Pavilion, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

**FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC**

Questions? info@steamboatinstitute.org or (970) 846-6013

Moderator: Amy Oliver Cooke
Director, Energy Policy Center Independence Institute

94414057-8439-4f5c-94c2-9d7256bd5ad9

FORUM PANELISTS

588aabb9-5faa-4e26-a36c-3b80c2e6f27b
RAYMOND L. GIFFORD
Attorney/Partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP; former Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission

330477aa-7040-4f37-9fb5-7be8895415ef
DAN BYERS
Senior Director of Policy, Institute for 21st Century Energy – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

70214157-cdc9-4aac-b28d-121d413c47b9
LEE BOUGHEY
Senior Manager of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs – Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc.

***

One of New Mexico’s leading environmental officials calls the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan’s scope–and legality–into question:

New Mexico environmental officials are among others in two dozen states pushing back against proposed federal restrictions on emissions from existing power plants. Without state support, the proposed Clean Power Plan won’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions the way the Obama administration hopes it will, according to a new report released by the nonprofit Brookings Institute.

When it comes to clean air, the federal government can set standards, but states decide how to enforce them. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn, an attorney, is one of many environment officials across the country who think the rule has problems and may be illegal.

“We agree with the overall goal of the proposed Clean Power Plan,” said department spokeswoman Allison Majure in a statement. “However, we are also extremely concerned about the unprecedented breadth of the proposal.”

New Mexico’s comments on the CPP revealed a pattern of failing by the EPA to communicate with other agencies and states in crafting the proposed clean air regulations:

Majure added in her statement, “The Environmental Protection Agency is using the Clean Air Act, which was designed to control air pollution at the source, to dictate America’s energy policy for the next 20 years,” reflecting comments the department filed with the EPA regarding the rule months ago.

She also said the EPA failed to consult with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, energy producers and the Department of Energy in crafting the plan.

The full Brookings report in the article above can be viewed and downloaded here.

***

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-SD1) examines Gov. Hickenlooper’s capitulation to the EPA over implementing the Clean Power Plan:

While the letter between US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was the focus of the media, it’s a third letter dated December 1, 2014, from the heads of Colorado’s three environmental agencies to the EPA, which will impact Colorado’s three million business and residential utility customers. After 2017, those customers will likely be paying much higher prices as a result of mistakes and miscalculations made over the past year by state and federal officials.

icon_op_edSen. McConnell’s March 19 letter called on all 50 state governors to delay compliance with an EPA carbon-cutting plan until the legality of the plan has been settled in court. Thirteen states are suing to block the EPA plan on legal and constitutional grounds. Hickenlooper’s response, which some climate crusaders cheered as a brush-off of McConnell, indicated that Colorado intends to comply with EPA mandates, which the governor believes are legal.

The bottom line here is that Gov. Hickenlooper has been consistently inconsistent when dealing with recent regulatory onslaughts from Washington. For example, he’s been reasonably proactive in opposing a threatened species listing for the Sage Grouse, and he’s also been forceful in responding to the potential shut-down of the Colowyo coal mine near Craig. But on the EPA’s “climate change” agenda – and the new EPA rules further restricting the state’s control of small bodies of water — that healthy skepticism has been missing.

Indeed.

***

Finally, former fossil fuel and hedge fund billionaire turned green crusader, Tom Steyer, appears to be doubling down on Colorado after a failed 2014 election cycle, as the folks from Energy In Depth report:

San Francisco billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, who spent more than $7 million in a failed campaign to defeat U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) last year, is keeping his Colorado political operation in place. Campaign finance reports show Steyer’s campaign arm, NextGen Climate Action Committee, has spent more than $80,000 on polling and research in Colorado this year.

Steyer, whose foundation is known for writing large checks to green groups, is also strengthening his ties with environmental organizations in Colorado. This week, he will be in Denver to accept an award from Conservation Colorado. Dubbed “Colorado’s largest political event for the environment,” other attendees will include elected officials and leaders from the state’s environmental movement.

Last year, Steyer held talks with millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.) about splitting the cost of putting anti-fracking measures on the statewide ballot. Ultimately, those measures were pulled before they could reach the ballot, and Steyer chose instead to put his money behind a failed campaign against Gardner. Through it all, Steyer worked with “ban fracking” groups and national environmental organizations to effectively campaign against Colorado’s energy industry, its supporters, and tens of thousands of men, women and families whose livelihoods depend on the oil and natural gas sector. He lost badly, but Steyer is coming back for more.

We’ll have an update next week on Steyer’s visit, and if any of his comments during the Denver trip are made public.

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May 14 Colorado Energy Roundup: fracking, ozone, and a national renewable energy standard

Energy In Depth’s Simon Lomax pokes holes in the American Lung Association’s report on ozone–and the Denver Post’s reporting on it–with input from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

Citing its own April 29 “report card” on the region’s air quality, the ALA told the Denver Post that levels of ground-level ozone – sometimes called smog – are deteriorating rather than improving. But the ALA went much further, claiming that while the air above the Denver metro area “looks cleaner than in the 1970s,” the region actually has “higher ozone” and the gains made since the 1970s “are going away.”

In the same news story – authored by the Post’s environmental writer Bruce Finley – the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) warned the ALA’s report card was “both inaccurate and misrepresents air quality in Colorado.” But Finley’s story didn’t detail what those inaccuracies and misrepresentations actually were.

In a follow-up interview with Energy In Depth, CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) Director Will Allison revealed that the ALA report card ignored a full year of air quality data from 2014, which shows ozone levels getting better, not worse. To claim there’s higher ozone now than back in the 1970s also ignores decades of air quality data that show “it’s gotten a lot better,” Allison said.

To say the ALA took a liberal look at its own conclusions to bolster an argument for increased ozone regulation appears correct.

“If you look at 2011-2013 averages, we had 10 monitors in the Denver North Front Range that exceeded the ozone standard of 75 parts per billion. But if you look at the 2012-2014 averages, only four monitors exceeded the federal standards. So there was a significant drop from 10 noncompliant monitors to four,” Allison told EID.

***

Colorado’s 21-member oil and gas task force, which concluded its meetings in February, received modest support (about $2 million) in the Colorado legislature for a handful of its recommendations:

The budget includes:
$1,364,713 to pay for 12 new employees for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the state agency charged with overseeing the state’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas sector.
$360,910 for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to create a hot line and website with information about the industry, and a chance to raise concerns about its operations.
$402,859 for the CDPHE to create a mobile air monitoring unit to watch for air pollution from industry operations and a person to operate it.

These small changes stand in contrast to some of the more pointed and disruptive resolutions the committee considered, and to the ballot measures that tripped off the Governor’s “compromise” move last August.

Fracking opponents, of course, decried the legislative session’s activity on oil and gas issues, while the industry hailed the results, according to Valerie Richardson at The Colorado Statesman.

Kicking the can down the road to 2016 on fracking issues–with Democrats sidestepping a fractious debate, as Richardson put it–may still not prove advantageous to Democrats split over the issue. With eco-left activists vowing to work hard again next November and having felt betrayed by maneuvering in 2014, Sen. Michael Bennet’s re-election efforts might not get the smooth ride his party was hoping to craft. It certainly didn’t help former Sen. Mark Udall, who carved a more eco-friendly niche in his term, but ultimately suffered defeat last year.

***

Speaking of Sen. Bennet–an attempt to bolster his green credibility with new legislation aimed at a national renewable energy standard:

The bill unveiled Tuesday that would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, starting with an 8 percent requirement by 2016 followed by gradual increases.

Sen. Tom Udall has introduced this legislation in every session of Congress since 2008. The bill is based on his bipartisan initiative that passed the House in 2007. Co-sponsors this time around include Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii).

“A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico — all while combating climate change,” Udall said in a news release. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES.”

***

Colorado’s western slope counties may avoid economic devastation if the Fish and Wildlife Service decides not to tap the greater sage-grouse with a designation as threatened or endangered:

The Interior Department has said it wants to reach the point that the Fish and Wildlife Service can find that no listing is warranted. Much of that decision lies with the way the BLM manages its lands and both agencies report to Jewell.

“We are very, very close to avoiding a listing altogether,” Hickenlooper said, noting that he spoke to [Secretary of Interior Sally] Jewell 10 days ago.

Finding that the bird should not be listed is Jewell’s goal, Hickenlooper said.

“I believe her. I don’t think she’s posturing.”

A listing by the FWS would be a critical blow to Colorado’s western counties, along with 10 other states, as one county commissioner told Gov. Hickenlooper.

“All of Moffat County is out of business,” Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe concluded, should the listing move forward contrary to Hickenlooper’s claims.

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ECPA: Mike Nasi’s testimony to Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy

April 14, 2015 by Amy · Comments Off
Filed under: CDPHE, Legal, Legislation, New Energy Economy 

Colorado’s Electric Consumers’ Protection Act (ECPA), a bill to address Colorado compliance with the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), received its first hearing on Thursday, April 9, 2015 in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee. Senators John Cooke (R-Greeley) and Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) are the prime sponsors of SB15-258. A number of people and organizations testified in favor of it including Catholic Charities, the Colorado Consumer Coalition, TriState Generation and Transmission Association, and our own Michael Sandoval. All made compelling arguments to support the ECPA. Below is the written testimony of one of the most compelling witnesses air regulatory attorney Mike Nasi.

The bill did pass out of committee with bi-partisan support on a 7-2 vote. Now it moves to Senate Appropriations.

For more information on the CPP and the ECPA, read the Independence Institute’s latest Issue Backgrounder “Colorado and the ‘Clean Power Plan’: Expensive, Ineffective, Illegal, and Impossible” by intern Lexi Osborn.

Also read Sen. Cooke and Sonnenberg’s commentary “No regulation without representation.”

Illegality of EPAs Clean Power Plan & Benefits of the Electric Consumers Protection Act (ECPA) SB15-258

April 9, 2015

TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL J. NASI

Jackson Walker, L.L.P Austin, Texas

My name is Mike Nasi.  I am a partner at the law firm Jackson Walker, located in the firm’s Austin, Texas office where I head up the firm’s air regulatory practice.  I am honored to be here before you today.  I have been asked to testify here today because I have been a practicing air quality attorney working with EPA air quality regulations for over 22 years and represent power generation interests, including rural electric cooperatives, in pending DC Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding a number of recently-promulgated EPA air regulations targeting the electric generation sector.

As proposed, EPA’s Clean Power Plan is illegal.  This is not just my opinion, but the position of thirty-two states’ elected officials; huge swaths of the electric power, manufacturing, and chemical industries; various businesses and community organizations; and even those in the President’s inner circle.  As recently stated by Laurence Tribe – the renowned scholar and close advisor to the President:

“EPA is attempting [in the Clean Power Plan] an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress and the Federal Courts – all at once. Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is an unprecedented and unconstitutional attempt at a power grab by the EPA.  In direct conflict with the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, EPA intends to take over roles reserved to the states and remake them in their vision – including a takeover of electricity production, consumption and distribution.  Under the guise of “state flexibility,” EPA hopes to coax states, or, if necessary, coerce them to develop state plans that would create authority EPA does not otherwise have to enforce the “outside the fence” elements of the CPP.

The Clean Air Act places limits on EPA’s authority; specifically, to “defining” the best system of emissions reduction – BSER – and promulgating a guideline document.  It does not provide EPA the authority to set binding state-specific emissions rate targets or regulate electricity markets under the auspices of a federally enforceable state plan.  By setting such stringent emissions limits under incredibly compressed timelines, and by preventing states from considering actions they’ve already taken before the 2012 baseline year – including retirements,  significant build out of renewable generation and reductions in end-user demand – EPA has failed to provide the states with any of the state-led authority or flexibility required in the Clean Air Act.  This authority and flexibility is central to the cooperative federalism required by the Clean Air Act.

At its core, EPA does not have the authority to require states to undertake the actions contemplated in its BSER model – the so-called four building blocks of the rule.  Block 1 – increased coal power plant efficiency – is unreasonable and technologically impractical, if not impossible.  The remaining three blocks, however, are where EPA truly contravenes the Clean Air Act by looking “beyond the fence” for emissions reductions.  The plain language of Section 111(d) makes it clear that a standard of performance should only apply to an “existing source” “which emits or may emit an air pollutant.”   There is no discussion of “groups of sources” or “markets related to an existing source,” but rather, requires that standards apply to individual “existing sources” in isolation – “within the fence.”  Blocks 2 through 4 completely contradict the within-the-fence requirements.  Regarding Block 2, EPA has no authority to require re-dispatch of generation, which is left largely to the free market or the regional transmission organizations (“RTO”) and independent system operators (“ISO”) that oversee dispatch [and Public Utility Commissions].  EPA simply is not provided the authority under the CAA to set mandatory state emission budgets based on the emission reductions it calculates are possible from fuel switching,  renewable generation increases, or end-user energy efficiency.  This is also in direct contravention of the Federal Power Act, which leaves to the states exclusive jurisdiction over intrastate electricity matters.

The legal problems with EPA’s rule start well before reaching the question of their “beyond the fence” state budgets, however, as EPA has three significant statutory hurdles  it has not and cannot clear.  The explicit language of the Clean Air Act prevents EPA from promulgating this rule.  The Act states that EPA is prevented from applying Section 111(d) standards to source categories already regulated under Section 112 of the Act; fossil fuel power plants are regulated through Section 112 by the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.  EPA claims that the Act is ambiguous due to drafting errors, but the language as codified in the United States code is clear.  Even accounting for drafting errors, the language still clearly prohibits EPA’s actions.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue, in a note to its decision in AEP v. Connecticut, in which it stated: “EPA may not employ [Section 111(d)] if existing stationary sources of the pollutant in question are regulated under the…the “hazardous air pollutants” program, [Section 112.]”

The Clean Air Act also requires a valid new-source 111(b) rule to be in place before EPA may proceed to an existing source rule under Section 111(d).  These rules are still in the proposal stage, and even if finalized, are riddled with technical and legal flaws that in my opinion will result in the rules being vacated, which will remove this necessary legal prerequisite to any 111(d) rule. As recently pointed out by 13 state attorneys general (see attached March 25, 2015 letter),  EPA also failed to finalize the 111(b) rule within one year of proposal in violation of its mandatory duty to do so under 111(b)(1)(B) of the CAA.  As explained more fully in the AG letter, this violation stands to undermines EPA’s current schedule for finalizing the 111(b) and (d) rule this summer given that the 111(b) rule must be re-proposed and finalized before the 111(d) rule can be finalized. EPA has also failed to make a necessary Section 111-specific endangerment finding based on CO2 emissions from the fossil fuel source category.  EPA attempts to rely on its endangerment finding for GHG emissions from motor vehicles as the endangerment finding for this rule.  But this motor vehicle endangerment finding is based on a completely different section, even title, of the Clean Air Act; it was an endangerment finding for six separate greenhouse gases, not just CO2 as the Clean Power Plan addresses; and the statutory language of the endangerment finding itself is different, with the Section 111 standard imposing a greater burden on EPA.  EPA attempts to say that there is a “rational basis” for this rule, but this is simply not true; the rule, even if fully implemented, will have an almost imperceptible impact on global climate.

Colorado’s ability to comply with the Clean Power Plan is in serious question, though due to no fault of your own, but it is why any attempt to comply should be transparent for every Coloradan to see.  The sheer enormity of the emissions reductions and the incredibly short time constraints of the rule alone would be a daunting, if not impossible challenge, but the legal authority of state agencies to implement the rule is simply not there in many respects.  As an initial matter, the Air Quality Control Commission’s authority, as implemented by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, is limited to drafting regulations directed at sources of air pollutants.  There is no authority to go “beyond the fence,” which, like the federal government, significantly constrains the ability to develop any plan addressing Blocks 2 through 4 of EPA’s BSER model.  The Public Utilities Commission is also subject to limitations on breadth of authority, that precludes it from addressing the environmental components and entities necessary to meet EPA’s budget.

I certainly would not recommend that Colorado create a plan that establishes authority that EPA itself does not have.  Having said that, I see value in the passage of SB 258 the Electric Consumer Protection Act because it would ensure the PUC’s oversight and actions to ensure that rates stay competitive and reliability is maintained.   Given the price increase and reliability risks in question, it makes good sense that the ECPA requires both PUC approval followed by the General Assembly’s approval because it will ensure that the public may participate in a transparent process and Colorado legislators have oversight over the submission of any plan.

I was encouraged to see that – the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Public Utilities Commission and the Colorado Energy Office – in official comments to the EPA about the CPP acknowledge that, “legislation may be needed to clarify or direct state agencies on their respective roles and authorities.”  There will be lawsuits, and the ECPA contains a smart safety valve provision that suspends or terminates any further action on a State Implementation Plan if the regulations are not adopted, are suspended, or are found to be contrary to law.

The ECPA is simply good government that provides a transparent framework. Without the ECPA, CDPHE has indicated that it will draft a plan and implement it behind closed doors, without public or legislative oversight. Without the ECPA, you will be ceding your authority, your responsibility, to unelected air quality regulators.

Thank you.

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Colorado and the ‘Clean Power Plan: Expensive, Ineffective, Illegal, and Impossible

April 2, 2015 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: New Energy Economy, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy 

IB-C-2015 (April 2015)
Author: Lexi Osborn

PDF of full Issue Backgrounder

Executive Summary:

As part of the Obama administration’s agenda to address global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced new regulations with the purpose of reducing carbon emissions. Titled the “Clean Power Plan,” the controversial rules:

  • Will require a new regulatory regime, and holistically seeks to remake the nation’s energy policy;
  • Will incur massive costs;
  • Will greatly affect energy reliability across the country;
  • Is likely illegal; and
  • Won’t have any measurable impact on global CO2 emissions.
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Energy Policy Center testimony on SB 44

IMG_0620
Energy Policy Center analyst Michael Sandoval offers testimony on behalf of Senate Bill 44 before the House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs on March 2, 2015.

Testimony as prepared:

Testimony on behalf of

SB 44 CONCERNING A REDUCTION IN COLORADO’S RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD

March 2, 2015

State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee

Mr(s). Chair and Members of the Committee,

My name is Michael Sandoval. I am an Energy Policy Analyst for the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify today on behalf of SB 44.

At the Independence Institute, we are agnostic on energy resources. It is our strong belief that the choice of energy resources should come from the demands of the free market, and not from the preferences of policymakers, lobbyists, or special interest groups.

The goal of the Energy Policy Center is to promote a free market in energy production, where no protections, subsidies, or regulations result in energy winners and losers. We advocate that government remain neutral, which then encourages a level playing field. That is the best way to ensure that consumers reap the benefits of a healthy energy market – where competition, lower prices, and more options provide the foundation for affordable and most importantly, reliable energy.

Testimony

SB 44 affords utilities the flexibility they need to meet electricity demand in the most cost effective way. SB 44 is an energy freedom bill that does not preclude utilities from incorporating wind, solar, or other alternative energy sources in order to achieve a minimum percentage of electricity that electric service providers must generate. Rather it allows utilities to achieve that mix in a way that does not force them to rush to comply in coming years.

SB 44 would eliminate the step-increases mandated by previous legislation that would negatively affect utilities’ ability to respond to customer demands and force ratepayers to contend with ever increasing costs of energy in Colorado.

The most recent numbers from the Energy Information Administration indicate where Colorado sits vis-à-vis its neighbors when it comes to the average retail price of electricity to the residential sector. As of November 2014, Colorado ranks 27th, with a residential retail cost that exceeds that of New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Idaho.

According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, in 2013 Colorado renewable portfolio standard of 30 percent by 2020 is the highest in the entire Rocky Mountain region, trailing only the west coast state of California.

The Independence Institute believes SB 44 addresses concerns about the state’s market-skewing renewable portfolio standard’s impact upon utilities and ratepayers. The step-change increases in the state’s renewable energy mandate over the course of the next few years will result in higher costs for utilities and ratepayers alike.

These increased costs will likely result in job losses, higher costs for consumers, and a loss of competitiveness for Colorado businesses in comparison to neighboring states without or with lower renewable energy standards. SB 44’S 15 percent figure would bring the state more in line with states throughout the Mountain region.

Again, aligning minimums between investor-owned utilities and cooperative electric associations will level the playing field that will keep electricity rates competitive, but will not prevent individual providers from exceeding those minimums with a market mix of conventional and alternative sources, including wind and solar, that best fits their own market profile and satisfies the needs of their customers.

In conclusion, SB 44 gives utilities the flexibility to adjust power sources as needed and respond to needs of consumers—and not the demands of special interests—from 2015 and thereafter.

Conclusion

As I stated at the beginning it is the strong belief of the Independence Institute that the choice of energy resources should come from the demands of the free market, and not from the preferences of policymakers, lobbyists, or special interest groups and we believe that SB 44 is consistent with that principle.

Thank you.

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Rising Energy Prices Lead to the Highest Inflation Rate in 18 Months

June 24, 2014 by michael · Comments Off
Filed under: New Energy Economy, preferred energy 

By Henry Zhang

On June 17th, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly consumer price index report. This included statistics regarding consumer prices in May 2014 and year-to-year inflation. Of note is that in the Western Region[1], from May 2013 to May 2014, electricity prices rose 2.8 percent and total energy prices rose by 3.1 percent.[2] Compare those figures to 2.3 percent increase in average consumer prices over the same time period. In fact, according to the Denver Business Journal, the year-to-year price gain in energy was tied with medical care for the largest price gain of any major category used to calculate inflation.[3]

(Here is a screenshot of the relevant BLS Western Region data. Energy prices are boxed in red)

Untitled1

Also from the Denver Business Journal article:

“The monthly increase [in the West] was largely influenced by higher prices for electricity,” BLS said. “Overall, energy costs advanced 4.6 percent over the month.”

Ten of the 13 states that comprise the BLS’ Western Region have some sort of renewable portfolio mandate over the next 15 years. This means that the state must generate a certain proportion of its electricity from renewable sources.[4] For states like Colorado that have been endowed with plentiful coal reserves, this requires replacing electricity from coal, which is relatively inexpensive, with electricity from wind and solar, which is relatively expensive. This, in turn, leads to higher electricity prices, which hurt businesses and consumers alike and can “inflict significant harm on the state economy.” [5]

On a national level, where 37 out of the 50 states have enacted renewable portfolio standards or goals, consumer prices rose 2.1 percent from May 2013 to May 2014 while electricity prices rose 3.6 percent and total energy prices rose 3.3 percent. For the US, like for the Western Region, energy prices experienced the largest percentage increase of all of the major consumption categories used to calculate inflation.

From 2004, when Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was passed, to 2012, the latest year for which data is available, the average retail price of electricity for all sectors increased from 6.95 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 9.39 cents per kWh, a 35 percent increase.[6] This is equivalent to a 3.76 percent average annual increase. For residential consumers of electricity, the retail price rose from 8.42 cents per kWh in 2004 to 11.46 cents per kWh in 2012. This is a 36 percent increase, equivalent to an average annual increase of 3.85 percent. In the eight years after the RPS was passed, both figures for the annual growth rate in the price of electricity are greater than the average rate of inflation.

For comparison purposes, in the eight years leading up to 2004 (1996-2004), average retail electricity prices only rose 15 percent, from 6.05 cents per kWh to 6.95 cents per kWh. This is an annualized growth rate of 1.73 percent. What more, for residential consumers, the annualized growth rate from 1996 to 2004 was just 1.46 percent. Thus, in the eight years before the RPS was passed, both figures for the annual growth rate in the price of electricity are less than the average rate of inflation. For a typical Colorado household,[7] which spends around $1065 per year on electricity,[8] the difference between an annual 3.85 percent rate increase and an annual 1.46 percent rate increase is an extra $270, per household, spent just on electricity over the course of 10 years. Furthermore, this number is much lower than the true cost of the RPS to Colorado households. It doesn’t take into account the billions of taxpayer dollars that have gone to the energy sources, like wind and solar, which contribute to the rapid rise in electricity prices.

Affordable energy and electricity prices are the bedrock of a strong, healthy economy. Increases in the price of electricity that outpace inflation and real income growth squeeze the spending power of all consumers. Ordinary people like you and me need affordable, dependable electricity for a myriad of purposes that enhance our standard of living. Businesses need a steady electricity supply to produce the goods and services that we consume. A justification of the cost of rapidly increasing electricity prices would require more than the rhetoric of environmental benefits. It would require clear evidence, from detailed, rigorous analyses, that the added value of environmental benefits exceeds the lost jobs and economic malaise caused by higher electricity prices.

Henry Zhang is a Future Leaders summer intern. He is a rising sophomore at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, majoring in mathematics and economics.


[1] The Western region consists of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming (link)

[2] BLS West Report (link)

[3] Mark Harden, Denver Business Journal. “Biggest annual price gain since 2012 in Colorado, the West” (link)

[4] Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) map (link)

[5] Heartland Institute study on Colorado’s RPS (link)

[6] Data from Energy Information Administration (EIA) (link)

[7] US Census Bureau: Colorado Quick Facts (link)

[8] 775 kWh/month * 12 months/year * 11.46 cents/kWh * (1.0385/1.0146)10 = $1325, which is $270 greater than $1065

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Colorado’s cruel approach to energy policy

February 25, 2014 by Amy · Comments Off
Filed under: New Energy Economy, preferred energy, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy 

By Amy Oliver Cooke

“Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun,” wrote environmental doomsday prophet Dr. Paul Ehrlich in 1975.

That’s a cruel statement directed at people who simply want electric lights so their children can read at night, a refrigerator to keep food from spoiling, or a heater to keep their homes warm during the winter.

Yet it seems to be the approach of Colorado’s environmental Left. Part of the problem is progressive leaders’ extremely narrow definition of “clean” energy that limits resource choices to more costly and unreliable wind and solar.

In 2004, Colorado voters approved Amendment 37, requiring Xcel Energy and other investor-owned utilities to use preferred sources such as wind and solar for 10 percent of the electricity sold to end users.

Since then the Colorado legislature has mandated increases in the renewable (or preferred) energy standard, from 10 to 20 to the current 30 percent by 2020. Only Maine (40 percent by 2017) and California (33 percent by 2020) have more aggressive mandates. They also have higher electric rates than Colorado.

Last year the state legislature passed SB 252, a 20 percent preferred energy standard on Colorado’s rural electric cooperatives. Now nearly the entire state must pay for a significant percentage of electricity produced predominantly from preferred “clean” sources wind and solar.

Since producing electricity from wind and solar is more expensive, Colorado’s electric rates have gone up along with the legislature’s mandates.

Not too long ago, our state enjoyed some of the cheapest electricity in the United States. In 2000, Colorado’s residential rates were 7.31 per kWh, equivalent to 9.89 cents in 2013 dollars. Instead, Coloradans now pay 11.91 cents per kWh for residential electricity, the highest rate in the Mountain West. California, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only Western states with higher residential rates.

Colorado’s electric rates are rising significantly faster than in most states. Last year rates across the U.S. increased on average 2.4 percent, compared to a 4.5 percent jump here.

These high rates couldn’t come at a worse time. Just this week the Denver Post reported that Colorado’s labor participation rate has fallen 6 percentage points since 2006, to its lowest level (67.3 percent) since 1976.

In addition, the number of Coloradans obtaining assistance from food stamps continues to mark all-time high numbers, Complete Colorado reports.

The second week of February saw a 42 percent increase in Coloradans asking government for help paying their heating bills, according to 9News.

The state legislature had an opportunity to modestly improve the situation. Rep. Lori Saine’s (R-Weld County) HB 1138 would have expanded the definition of “clean” energy to include hydroelectricity.

Under HB1138 many electric co-ops that serve Colorado’s rural communities could have met or at least come close to meeting SB 252’s increased mandate. Without the expanded definition, some co-ops will need to build additional capacity and expensive transmission lines, or purchase renewable energy credits from other providers. Some of Colorado’s poorest counties will bear the costs.

Despite HB1138’s bipartisan sponsorship, lobbying from the wind and solar industries and their advocates in the environmental non-profit world doomed the bill in committee.

Progressive state lawmakers’ definition of clean energy is also unique. Many states, including those in the eco-friendly Pacific Northwest, the Center for American Progress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and our own Colorado Energy Office all consider hydro to be a clean, renewable source.

Our state’s extremely narrow definition of clean energy begs the question of whether progressive lawmakers simply seek to protect the wind and solar industry at the expense of ratepayers.

A 2012 Independence Institute study showed Xcel Energy ratepayers spent $343 million to comply with the preferred energy mandate, much of which ended up as surplus because supply exceeded demand. That’s $245 per ratepayer, nearly two months of average Colorado electricity bills, for electricity they didn’t use.

Affordable power is not mutually exclusive of clean power. Colorado should expand the definition of clean resources to include clean coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear. We also should encourage a least cost principle and let consumers decide.

Anything else is just cruel.

This opinion editorial appeared originally in the Greeley Tribune on February 20, 2014.

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