On the last day of the 2019 legislative session State Representative Hugh McKean (R-Loveland) moved the most appropriate amendment of the session to rename SB19-236 the PUC Sunset Review bill to the “TURDUCKEN ACT of 2019 (With a Slice of PUC-in Pie).
A Turducken is a chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed inside a turkey. In a Chamber where Democrats hold a 17-seat majority, the amendment was only narrowly defeated 31-33.
The amendment stems from Representative Chris Hansen’s (D-Denver) successful effort to insert via amendments two other highly controversial bills HB19-1037 and HB19-1313 into what should have been a routine update and passage of regulatory review of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Both bills faced intense opposition from pro-ratepayer groups such as AARP Colorado and the Coalition of Ratepayers.
Instead, the PUC Sunset Review is now larded up with two other bills not germane to it. Energy policy analyst Brit Naas wrote this about the Hansen sponsored HB19-1037, the so-called “Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act”:
HB19-1037 stipulates that upon approval from the Public Utilities Commission, electric utilities will be able to refinance what they still owe on a prematurely closed power plant through ratepayer-backed bonds. You read that right. Captive ratepayers guarantee the bonds!
With HB19-1313, Sponsors Speaker of the House KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Senator Faith Winter (D-Westminster) gave Xcel Energy a blank check to prematurely close existing power plants, replace them with expensive intermittent sources, and force ratepayers to pay the bill plus interest.
Both the House and the Senate passed the amended (sans the Turducken title) version of PUC Sunset Review bill. Now, it awaits Governor Jared Polis’s signature.
Despite getting through the General Assembly, it’s hard to believe this amended PUC Sunset Review will pass Colorado’s single subject rule in Art. V, §21 of the Constitution, Bill to contain but one subject – expressed in title:
No bill, except general appropriation bills, shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title; but if any subject shall be embraced in any act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed.
Next stop for the “Turducken Act of 2019” may be a court room, assuming ratepayer groups have the appetite for a legal challenge. Absent a court ruling in their favor, Xcel Energy ratepayers are sure to suffer indigestion from electric bills that are guaranteed to go up.