Colorado renewable energy vote: a victory... sort of

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By: SGN Staff

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By Doug Peeples

SGN News Editor

 

Supporters and critics alike have been watching closely as some states move to raise their renewable energy requirements and programs and others try to dismantle theirs. In the latest chapter of the skirmish, the Colorado House approved a bill Tuesday that would raise renewables requirements for rural electric cooperatives to 20%.

 

The amount is a 10% increase over the previous requirement. The version of the bill approved by the House differs from the more strict measure approved by the Senate, so must now go back to the Senate for final action.

 

Democrats who support the measure say it would draw wind and solar development which would bring needed jobs to the rural parts of the state. In contrast, Republicans make dire predictions that the requirement for increased renewables would mean certain economic doom for those areas.

 

While the legislation includes a cap on utility customer rate hikes of 2% to cover costs of the upgraded requirements, Republicans still criticized it saying "it could still decimate jobs," according to a news story in Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper. The bill passed on a straight party line vote of 37-27.

 

The 20% increase approved by the House for rural cooperatives is less than the 30% requirement for the investor-owned utilities that provide electricity to most Colorado residents.

 

If the Senate goes along with the lower requirement the bill moves to the governor's desk for signing. Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, supports the measure.