Summer brings sun – and higher electricity bills
Summer is upon us. The long hot days are soon to come, along with the higher electricity bills they bring. For most of us, higher costs come because we run our household air conditioners which depend solely on electricity to cool our home.
But for farmers, higher electricity bills are the result of irrigating their crops. The electric irrigation pumps required to water large fields use a lot of electricity. And the combined use of pumps on farms across Colorado places higher stress on the electric grid. While farmers do what they can to minimize electricity use during the hottest summer days, they must pump when their crops need water.
Many rural areas are in need of an upgrade to the transmission lines that bring power into smaller communities. The use of irrigation pumps and home air conditioners during peak hours can easily overload rural power grids and cause reductions in service and brownouts. Some rural areas in Colorado are only served by a single transmission line which leaves them without backup power should the main line go down. The lack of redundancy is a real threat to both residential consumers and farmers.
Luckily, a bill was recently passed in the Colorado legislature that will help streamline the process of constructing new transmission lines and help secure Colorado’s energy future. HB- 1312 sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and Sens. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) and Michael Johnston (D-Denver) helps clarify the appropriate review procedures for the Public Utilities Commission and local governments when assessing the need for and placement of new transmission lines and should help ensure the timely approval of such projects in the future.
The measure enjoyed rare bipartisan support and passed out of the state Senate on a unanimous vote. Governor Hickenlooper recognized the importance of bolstering our electric infrastructure to improve service to current residents and to help prepare for our states’ future growth. He signed the measure in April.
HB-1312 is an important step towards improving the affordability of electricity for Colorado’s farmers. In the future, farmers across the state will be able to reduce their costs and enjoy a more reliable electric service on their farm. Effective and efficient electric transmission projects are one more way to Keep Electricity Affordable.