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Co-op opts out of renewable energy initiative

Another energy cooperative has opted out of Amendment 37, the year-old initiative that requires large Colorado power providers to increasingly use renewable sources for their juice.

Another energy cooperative has opted out of Amendment 37, the year-old initiative that requires large Colorado power providers to increasingly use renewable sources for their juice.

The vote by United Power's 55,000 customers means that the state's two largest cooperatives, making up nearly 10 percent of the customers originally under Amendment 37, are no longer bound by the initiative's requirements.

Environmental groups that championed Amendment 37 had been concerned before the election that opt-outs could set a bad precedent for other providers under Amendment 37.

But Matt Garrington, an organizer for Environment Colorado, said that while he is disappointed with the outcome, the vote will not be fatal for Amendment 37.

"The last thing I want to do is say, 'The sky is falling.' ... I would expect other municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives to look further into the future," Garrington said. "Renewables will continue to play a strong role in the future of energy production in Colorado."

Xcel Energy, two municipal utilities, another electric company and another co-op - a total of about 1.7 million customers - are still covered by the initiative.

Amendment 37 requires energy companies,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Another energy cooperative has opted out of Amendment 37, the year-old initiative that requires large Colorado power providers to increasingly use renewable sources for their juice.

The vote by United Power's 55,000 customers means that the state's two largest cooperatives, making up nearly 10 percent of the customers originally under Amendment 37, are no longer bound by the initiative's requirements.

Environmental groups that championed Amendment 37 had been concerned before the election that opt-outs could set a bad precedent for other providers under Amendment 37.

But Matt Garrington, an organizer for Environment Colorado, said that while he is disappointed with the outcome, the vote will not be fatal for Amendment 37.

"The last thing I want to do is say, 'The sky is falling.' ... I would expect other municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives to look further into the future," Garrington said. "Renewables will continue to play a strong role in the future of energy production in Colorado."

Xcel Energy, two municipal utilities, another electric company and another co-op - a total of about 1.7 million customers - are still covered by the initiative.

Amendment 37 requires energy companies, municipal utilities and rural electric co-ops with more than 40,000 customers to gradually step up their use of renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, over the next decade.

Customers of United Power, the second-largest cooperative in the state, voted by a nearly 79 percent majority to shed themselves of any renewable-energy mandate. The Intermountain Rural Electric Association, the state's largest co-op, opted out earlier this year.

United Power officials, who had argued that wind and solar energy are too costly and too unreliable, were pleased with the result.
 
"We'll be able to continue operating on market-based rates, not mandate-based rates," said Troy Whitmore, a United Power spokesman.
 
"We're confident that renewable energy will continue to be a part of our portfolio and probably an increasing part of our portfolio, but we want that to be based on market rates."
Amendment 37 allows companies to opt out in an election, provided they get at least a 25 percent turnout from their customers. United Power saw about a 33 percent turnout, Whitmore said. The votes were tallied Nov. 18.

Environmentalists who championed Amendment 37 said United Power didn't run a fair election and didn't make a good case for renewable energy when sending out information on the election. They say renewable energy is, in some cases, already cheaper than traditional sources, such as coal and natural gas, and will become more cost-effective as fossil fuels become more expensive.

"The management shouldn't feel good about this election because it was biased," said Rick Gilliam, a senior policy adviser for Western Resource Advocates and the author of Amendment 37. "As a result, customers will pay more for energy."

Staff writer John Ingold can be reached at 720-929-0898 or jingold@denverpost.com.

Source: http://denverpost.com/busin...

DEC 4 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/592-co-op-opts-out-of-renewable-energy-initiative
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