State Senator cites our work as a reason for PUC audit

June 23, 2011 by Amy · Comments Off
Filed under: Archive, HB 1365, New Energy Economy 

State Senator Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) said in an interview on the Amy Oliver Show on 1310 KFKA that information we published was influential in his decision to request an audit of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Specifically Senator Renfroe cited:

Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) joined Senator Renfroe in the audit request. Both lawmakers are members of the politically-balanced Legislative Audit Committee.

According to the Colorado News Agency:

A formal request made earlier this year…asked the state auditor to conduct preliminary research into the activities of the PUC.  The findings of the state auditor will be used for the committee to make a determination as to whether a full audit is merited.

The letter outlines areas for evaluation including transparency, accountability to ratepayers, expenditures, the conduct of PUC members, and whether the commission is indeed living up to its role and mission as a watchdog for consumers.

Senator Renfroe said in the radio interview that the committee will get the “30,000 foot” report from the State Auditors Office at the next committee meeting on July 12 and 13. That report should contain a recommendation either for or against a more comprehensive audit of the embattled agency. Renfroe commented that he cannot predict what the report will say, but with all the questionable issues surrounding the PUC, he would be surprised if the recommendation was against a full audit.  The committee then votes on the recommendation.

We’ve long thought that PUC reform is overdue and accused the commissioners of “gross dereliction of duty.” Hopefully this audit will be a first step in a direction more friendly to consumers and less cozy with industry, elected officials and special interests.

Don’t Let the PUC Hide the Cost of HB 1365

December 28, 2010 by williamyeatman · Comments Off
Filed under: Archive, HB 1365 

“I have a moderate proposal” was how PUC Chairman Ron Binz introduced his interpretation of cost recovery provisions in HB 1365, the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act, legislation that effectively mandates fuel switching from coal to natural gas for almost 1,000 megawatts of base-load electricity generation along the Front Range. It was a very important exegesis. One of the major reasons Xcel agreed to go along with fuel switching was the possibility of ultra-generous rate treatment accorded by the legislation. Yet the language of the law was ambiguous on certain key points, and the PUC was the final arbiter of what these words meant. Millions of dollars hung in the balance.

Chairman Binz pitched his proposal on December 9, during the PUC’s final deliberations on HB 1365, and he was true to his word when he labeled it “moderate.” The PUC Chairman denied many of Xcel’s demands—most significantly, the utility’s insistence on upfront payment, without having to submit to a cumbersome and time-consuming rate case procedure.

Although I disagree with PUC regulation of the electricity industry to begin with (for my take on this matter, click here or here), I don’t think Chairman Binz’s proposed cost recovery regime (which ultimately was adopted by the PUC) is unreasonable. I do, however, disagree with Chairman Binz’s statement that he did “not think highlighting this [HB 1365 costs] on a bill will serve us well.”

Perhaps Chairman Binz was worried about his legacy and was therefore loathe to allow a monthly reminder to more than a million Coloradans of the costs of legislation he helped write. Governor Bill Ritter, too, would be poorly served by a constant reminder that his “New Energy Economy” came with big strings attached.

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