In a symbolic move that has all the chance of passing as does a bill repealing national health care reform, a Colorado state senator has introduced legislation that would roll back the state's renewable energy standard to just 10 percent, a standard voters passed in 2004 and utilities already far exceed.
Introduced by Republican Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield, Colorado Senate Bill 71 (pdf) would roll back House Bill 10-1001, passed by a Democratically controlled legislature last year. HB 10-011 raised the state's renewable energy standard to 30% by 2020.
“Voters approved a substantial move toward alternative energy as a reasonable step to see if it’s practical and cost-effective,” said Mitchell. “This green fantasy of pushing it up to 20 and then 30 percent slaps voters in the face. It punishes voters by replacing a modest experiment with an extreme one.”
Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Aspen) thinks the rollback would be a mistake for Colorado's leadership in the "New Energy Economy," the hallmark of outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter's single term in office.
“This is a sector of the economy demonstrating growth, new jobs and investment,” says Schwartz. “Our leadership on renewable energy development has brought Colorado national and international attention. This bill is backwards thinking.”
State progressive and environmental groups agree.
“It’s hard to understand how anyone would actually support a bill that would directly result in the loss of Colorado jobs, and less competitiveness for Colorado’s economy," says Kjersten Forseth of Progress Now Colorado," at the very moment we need to be doing all we can to create jobs.”
Other than the "green fantasy" rhetoric, Mitchell was not entirely clear why he introduced the bill. And at this time he does not appear to have support from Xcel Energy, the state's largest (and virtually only) investor-owned utility. Xcel Energy is the primary target of the state's aggressive renewable energy requirement and has embraced the state's leadership in renewables as an opportunity to tag along and become one of the U.S.' leading utilities in renewable energy generation.
Xcel said last year that the 30 percent by 2020 was "not impossible" and that they would stand behind the effort as long as the 2 percent annual cap in price increases was kept in place for consumers.
Under the cap, utilities can't charge customers more than 2 percent of their previous year's bill to cover the costs of renewables.
The bill, still with just the one sponsor in the Senate, is still looking for a sponsor in the House.