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Big Promises of Renewable Energy Fall Flat


March 3, 2015

Opposition to ‘clean power’ plans growing in Colorado

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RENEWING RENEWABLES UNLIKELY: Colorado legislators are taking advantage of the growing momentum against renewable energy mandates in both private and governmental sectors throughout the country.

 

By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena

Colorado lawmakers are on the path to undo the strong affirmation bestowed upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signing of a 2013 renewable energy bill that increased the state’s rural renewable energy requirement from ten to 20 percent by the year 2020.

This bill, SB-252, designed purportedly to reduce carbon emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants, further widened the rift between urban (the Boulder/Denver Corridor) and rural (the rest of the state) Colorado.

Two years ago, Hickenlooper had the cooperation of a Democratic majority in the state Legislature, which represented mostly urban districts in the center of the state. Republican legislators, many of whom represented Colorado’s rural regions, were unable to overcome the Democrat-sponsored Rural Electricity bill, which eventually made its way to the governor’s desk. Consequentially, urban Colorado successfully used the power of government to force rural Colorado to pay for its pet carbon-reducing, renewable energy projects.

The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms.

Colorado legislators have taken notice as the opposition to renewable energy mandates is gaining steam in both private and governmental sectors. State Sen. Ray Scott (R) from fossil fuel-rich Mesa County passed SB15-044 through the Republican-led Senate. SB15-044 would cap mandated renewable sources at 15 percent, instead of the 20-30 percent requirements in the existing law. SB15-046, run by Sen. Kevin Grantham (R), who also represents a rural Colorado district, expands the definition of “retail distribution” regarding solar energy sources.

It’s unlikely that a full repeal of the 2013 renewable mandates would make it through Colorado’s Democrat-led House of Representatives, but both existing Senate bills are supported by rural electric cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, and other organizations representing Colorado’s rural counties.

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Solar panels at a power plant in the San Luis Valley of central Colorado.

Scott’s SB15-044 was originally heard in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Jan. 29. Most of those who testified against the renewable mandates rollback were representatives of the renewable energy industry. Several organizations which benefit financially from the government mandates, including Solar Energy Industries Association, Interwest Energy Alliance, Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, and Western Resource Advocate, spoke in opposition to SB15-044.A representative from the Colorado Mining Association and the Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado spoke in support of the bill.

The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms. EPA’s standards are even tougher for rural Colorado than SB-252, and its plan would force rural cooperatives to show a 34 percent reduction in carbon emissions by traditional source power plants by 2030.

The conjoined mandates of increasing renewable energy sources while eliminating cheap and abundant fossil fuel-powered electricity plants have proven burdensome and unrealistic. Many in Colorado are starting to push back, and the following are a few points in the case against the Clean Power Plan:

The parties for and against decreasing Colorado’s renewable mandate illustrate the same rift that existed in 2013, wherein green special interests located primarily in urban districts seek to force rural counties to pay for a product they can’t afford.

With data pouring in from recent years indicating that renewable mandates in Colorado and elsewhere are unrealistic, costly, and economically harmful, those most impacted will push for further roll-back of “carbon-reducing” government green energy initiatives.

As originally published on Watchdog.org 

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