Renewable Energy Bill Could Raise Rural Rates
KREX News Room
MONTROSE, Colo. Introduced about a month ago, Senate Bill 252 was narrowly approved by the Colorado legislature and awaits the governor's decision. The measure doubles the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) on rural ratepayers, who say it will be costly and hard to achieve.
Supporters of the bill say it would maintain Colorado as a clean energy leader.
Tom Walch, general manager of Grand Valley Power, said, "The measure requires rural electric co-ops essentially to have 20 percent of their electric energy come from renewable energy sources by 2020."
That doubles the 10 percent standard imposed in 2007.
"The worst thing about this legislation is it was put together without the folks who were going to be responsible for implementing it," said Walch.
Grand Valley Power is already implementing slightly over 20 percent renewable energy, but officials still agree with other rural co-ops that the bill is not fair.
"I think this was a premeditated assault by that wind and solar power lobby," said Walch.
Jim Hougnon, a Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) customer, said, "I like renewables, they're great, but to ram this down the throats of western Colorado is wrong."
Electric supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission would be subject to the increase. Among co-ops who get energy from them is the DMEA.
"Would equate to about $3 a month, maybe $4 a month, and that increase could continue according to the bill, until that 20 percent amount is met," said DMEA general manager Dan McClendon.
DMEA officials requested changes in Senate Bill 252, but none were made, "Probably more realistically Tri-State would shop for larger projects, wind projects, potentially out of the state," said McClendon.
"It's not a good model for this region of Colorado," said Hougnon.
Those opposed don't doubt the bill will be good for the environment, but they do believe it is at an unreasonable cost.