Electric association says 'No' to SB 13-252

Jim Herron CEO, Mountain View Electric Association, Inc.
Posted

The Colorado Legislative Leadership has introduced a bill that will prove to be detrimental to Mountain View Electric Association, Inc. and costly to the MVEA membership. SB 13-252 was introduced in the General Assembly with requirements for MVEA and our wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, to increase the amount of renewable energy sources from the current requirement of 10 percent to 25 percent in six and one-half years. This bill more than doubles the existing mandate in less than HALF the time that was allowed under the existing law. This measure will cost rural Coloradans billions of dollars to comply. You can read SB 13-252 on the Colorado Legislative website by visiting http://www.leg.state.co.us.

I am fully aware of the economic benefits that eastern Colorado has received from the wind energy industry and so the purpose of this letter is not to argue the merits of renewable energy; it is an attempt to kill a piece of damaging legislation and prevent the domineering Colorado Legislative Leadership from forcing economic hardship on the MVEA membership.

This piece of legislation is sponsored by the Senate President John Morse, and Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino. In addition, 13 other Denver area legislators have sponsored this bill. The bill was introduced April 3 and had its first committee hearing on April 8, only five days later. In contrast, SB 13-001, a much less controversial bill on tax credits for working families, was introduced January 9 and had its first hearing April 3, three months later. SB 13-252, with the support of the Colorado Legislative Leadership, is now being rushed through the legislative process without the benefit of an open and honest dialogue. Instead of being referred to the Senate Energy Committee, which has some familiarity with energy issues and electric cooperatives, it was sent to the Senate State Affairs Committee. This is the committee handpicked by Senator Morse to approve controversial bills at his direction.

Last Monday, in the Senate State Affairs Committee, I sat through over seven hours of testimony from proponents and opponents just to voice my opposition to this legislation. During this time, I heard testimony from the supporters of renewable energy claim how this legislation would really help their business. I testified that mandated economic development of renewable energy is not a good plan and it will have a detrimental impact on rural residents. This one-size-fits-all mandate might be the way Denver politicians choose to do things, but rural areas know that what works in one part of Colorado may not make sense in another area.

Colorado rural electric cooperatives are already supporting renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydro. Electric cooperatives supported a bill in 2007 to impose a 10 percent renewable energy standard on ourselves. The idea to increase the renewable energy standard was not imposed lightly — cooperatives worked with legislators, the Governor's office, renewable advocates and environmentalists to craft workable legislation that achieved goals we all agreed on. But the proposed extensive and burdensome new requirements will require Tri-State to add even more resources before they are economically feasible. As a result, MVEA will be forced to raise electric rates to comply with these mandates which are being driven by the Colorado Legislative Leadership and Denver politicians.

Tri-State estimates that the compliance costs of SB 13-252 will be between $2.5 and $4 billion. This includes adding 900 MW of wind, a 315 MW gas plant (and the necessary pipelines) and transmission lines to deliver the power. Two items included in the assumptions to calculate the estimate are that the current National Production Tax Credits will expire and the annual rate of inflation is 3 percent. These costs translate into an estimated 15 percent retail rate increase to MVEA and other Colorado Tri-State members (the bill states that Tri-State can only attribute the costs to Colorado members). Let's narrow the numbers down and look at it another way - Tri-State estimates that it would cost each Colorado consumer on Tri-State's system more than $8,000.

The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Pueblo Chieftain have all weighed in with strongly worded editorials opposing the bill. In addition, Progressive 15 and the Economic Development Council of Colorado have opposed this legislation. I encourage you to take action against this bill. Please visit the MVEA website at www.mvea.coop and click on the “Take Action Network” button near the bottom of the page. This will take you to a link that will allow you to send a letter directly to your state legislators. It's easy, just complete steps 1 and 2, then “Send the Message.”

I urge the MVEA membership to contact your Colorado legislators today to ask them to VOTE NO on SB 13-252!