Affordable electricity fight felt in recalls

The controversial passage of Senate Bill 252, which doubled the renewable energy mandate on Colorado’s rural electric cooperatives, is still making its mark on the state’s politics.

The measure, which threatens to increase electricity costs for farms, small businesses and rural families, was cited in media reports as a factor in the recalls of state Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse.

The Colorado Springs Gazette wrote in an editorial after the Sept. 10 election: “We hope legislators undo the unfair, jobs-killing electric-rate increases Morse helped impose on rural Coloradans.”

The Gazette added to that call in a Sept. 14 editorial entitled “Post-recall Legislature can undo rural electric rate hike.” It stated: “Our hope is they'll revisit - and repeal - this especially smug and odious example of out-of-touch lawmaking during the next legislative session. After all, that rate hike is the stuff of which recalls are made.”

Shortly before election day The Pueblo Chieftain editorialized about “worrisome Giron votes that tend to ally her with Denver metro urbanites against the interests of rural Colorado.”

The Chieftain noted: “She co-sponsored Senate Bill 252, which imposes urban-backed renewable energy requirements on rural electric association customers that are sure to inflate their utility bills. This is a direct hit on rural constituents at the behest of metrocentric environmentalists who couldn’t care less about the rural cost.”

And again on Sept. 15, The Chieftain concluded in a new editorial that “a responsible move toward moderate to conservative fiscal and regulatory policies, in particular, would be good for Colorado."

The candidate who will replace Giron, George Rivera, had spoken against Senate Bill 252, saying that there was inadequate infrastructure in places such as Colorado’s San Luis Valley to let rural electric co-ops produce more renewable power.

Please continue to check in with KEA for updates on public policy matters like this that affect affordable electricity.


Update (11/6/2013):

The Chieftain released an editorial on November 5 outlining their reasons for continuing to oppose SB252, pointing out that it is now Gov. Hickenlooper’s “responsibility to see that it’s fair — and does no harm — to [rural electric associations] and rural electric customers.” This is particularly important in light of the governor’s appointed task force failing to agree on ways to improve the new law.