For the better part of a decade, Colorado energy policy has been a textbook case of state government selected winners and losers. Ratepayers and working families, at the mercy of Democrat controlled legislature and executive branch, have held the losing hand.
While special interest environmental left groups such as Conservation Colorado, the Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, and the Natural Resources Defense Council piled up wins and raked in cash working to pass legislation designed to kill Colorado jobs and raise electricity rates. The Golden Dome’s most favored monopoly Xcel Energy and other self-described clean energy and tech companies reaped the benefits and profits as well.
Ratepayers could do little other than continue to pay ever higher electricity rates and apply for low income assistance as the majority Democrats cavalierly dismissed the impact of rising power costs.
This year could be different. The GOP majority in the Senate can finally deliver some relief and protection for Colorado ratepayers by killing three bad bills. The first is HB17-1227, extension of Demand Side Management (DSM) programs. This is the continuation of a Bill Ritter era policy where ratepayers pay utilities to lecture ratepayers about using less power. Utilities get to fully recover the cost of the programs plus a little more as an “incentive.” In 2012 alone, Xcel’s DSM program cost its customer nearly $80 million. DSM is one of the leading cost drivers of higher rates in Colorado.
If the reason for DSM is to save ratepayers money, it failed miserably. But that’s not the real reason for DSM. It’s to reduce fossil fuel usage. It is utterly stupid policy. I’ve written about this bill and the stupidity of it here.
The bill is scheduled today in the House Transportation and Energy Committee. According to the Secretary of State’s Web site: supporters include the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (Xcel is a member), Siegel Public Affairs representing the NRDC, Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, Conservation Colorado, and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action Fund.
Prediction: it will pass out of committee and the House. When HB17-1227 comes to the Senate, Republicans should quickly drive a stake through the heart of this anti-affordable power and insane policy.
The second bill is HB17-1232, ratepayer-funded electric vehicle infrastructure. Just when I think Xcel Energy couldn’t get any more obnoxious or greedy, the most favored monopoly one ups itself. HB17-1232 would allow utilities (read Xcel) to build electric vehicle charging stations and force its Colorado customers to pay for the build out and the usual 10 percent rate of return.
Imagine your local convenience store wants to add a gas station and then forces a tax assessment on everyone in the neighborhood to pay for it whether they buy gas there or not or, even, whether or not they own a car! It’s bad enough that the state gives rich people $5,000 to buy an EV, but to force Xcel ratepayers to pay for their convenient charging station is adding insult to injury.
Like the DSM bill, HB17-1232 is scheduled in the House Transportation and Energy committee today at 1:30 pm. Supporters: Siegel Public Affairs representing NRDC, Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, ChargePoint, Inc. and Conservation Colorado. Why isn’t Xcel listed? Because its army of lobbyists is smart enough not to put the favored monopoly’s name on it yet. But the Golden Dome rumor is that Xcel is involved.
Prediction: it will pass out of committee and the House. When HB17-1227 comes to the Senate, Republicans should quickly tell Xcel, “NO.”
The third bill, HB17-1225, to require a transportation committee hearing on joining a regional grid. This is the first act of a dog and pony show designed to lock Colorado ratepayers into a Western grid that includes states like California. Call it grid lock. his is the last place Colorado ratepayers should be, and it moves us further away from individual ratepayer choice and control over our own energy and environmental destiny.
The grid lock bill was supposed to be heard in committee today along with the other two bills mentioned above but is now scheduled for April 12. That kind of delay is usually done to accommodate the schedules of out-of-state witnesses. According to the Secretary of State’s Web site: supporters include Colorado Cleantech Industries Association and Conservation Colorado.
Prediction: It will pass out of committee and the House. When HB17-1225 comes to the Senate, Republicans should side with Colorado and freedom and kill grid lock.
There is no better moment to prove that someone or some party cares about ratepayers. I’ll let you know who that is when it happens.