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Green energy, utilities agency clash - Rules to put ballot measure in place cause friction

DENVER - Renewable-energy advocates accused the state of doing the bare minimum to promote wind and solar power in its new rules.

The Public Utilities Commission, which regulates electric utilities, expects to have the rules ready to go by the end of the month, in time to take effect at the end of May, said the PUC's Frank Shafer. The new rules are required by Amendment 37, which voters passed in 2004. It requires at least 10 percent of the state's electricity to be generated by renewable resources by 2015.

The rules start with a 3 percent renewable standard in 2007, Shafer told members of the House Select Committee on Strategic Renewable Energy on Wednesday.

Advocates of Amendment 37 said the PUC is ignoring the spirit of the law.

"It was just intended to get things started," said Morey Wolfson of the Colorado Energy Science Center.

Amendment 37 was set up to serve seven values, said Ron Lehr of the American Wind Energy Association. The values include saving customers money, attracting new business and jobs, promoting rural economic development, minimizing water use, diversifying energy resources, reducing the effect of volatile prices and improving the environment.

But the PUC has focused only on the first value - saving money, Lehr said. He suggested legislators put the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The Public Utilities Commission, which regulates electric utilities, expects to have the rules ready to go by the end of the month, in time to take effect at the end of May, said the PUC's Frank Shafer. The new rules are required by Amendment 37, which voters passed in 2004. It requires at least 10 percent of the state's electricity to be generated by renewable resources by 2015.
 
The rules start with a 3 percent renewable standard in 2007, Shafer told members of the House Select Committee on Strategic Renewable Energy on Wednesday.
 
Advocates of Amendment 37 said the PUC is ignoring the spirit of the law.
 
"It was just intended to get things started," said Morey Wolfson of the Colorado Energy Science Center.
 
Amendment 37 was set up to serve seven values, said Ron Lehr of the American Wind Energy Association. The values include saving customers money, attracting new business and jobs, promoting rural economic development, minimizing water use, diversifying energy resources, reducing the effect of volatile prices and improving the environment.
 
But the PUC has focused only on the first value - saving money, Lehr said. He suggested legislators put the values into law to send a message to the PUC.
 
"We have only two avenues of appeal. One is to the Legislature. The other is to the courts," Lehr said.
 
PUC spokesman Terry Bote said the commission didn't ignore six of the seven benefits. All will be served by its new rule, he said.
 
"By looking at the least cost of these programs, it gives us the biggest bang for the buck. And in the long run, it will help achieve all of the other benefits," Bote said.
 
Committee member Alice Madden, D-Boulder, said there's still time to introduce bills this session, which ends in early May. She shared Lehr's frustration.
 
"It's similar with many big companies or big institutions. Change is scary," she said.
 
When it takes full effect, Amendment 37 will require 0.4 percent of Colorado's electricity to come from solar power. Southwest Colorado and the San Luis Valley have some of the country's best potential for solar.
 
Wind is expected to fill a great deal of Amendment 37's requirements. The Eastern Plains have the best wind potential, even though all of the plains counties voted against Amendment 37. A majority of La Plata County voters approved it.
 
Madden was among the lawmakers who pushed to set up the energy committee, which is new this year. It will discuss potential legislation at one of its April meetings.
 
Madden said the government needs to play a role.
 
"I think if it was up to the free market, then certain entities would be screaming, 'We are fine,' until the last drop of oil was burned up," she said.


Source: http://durangoherald.com/as...

MAR 23 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1872-green-energy-utilities-agency-clash-rules-to-put-ballot-measure-in-place-cause-friction
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