State Senator Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) said in an interview on the Amy Oliver Show on 1310 KFKA that information we published was influential in his decision to request an audit of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Specifically Senator Renfroe cited:
- Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request for all travel documents for the PUC commissioners that lead to an ethics charge against Chairman Ron Binz, who decided not to seek reappointment
- Exposure of Xcel Energy’s high profits in Colorado
- Change in the PUC mission statement, which we first published in a May 2010 opinion editorial
- Charges of collusion between the PUC commissioners, Governor Ritter’s administration, Xcel Energy and special interest groups to draft legislation on which the quasi-judicial commission later sat in judgment
Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) joined Senator Renfroe in the audit request. Both lawmakers are members of the politically-balanced Legislative Audit Committee.
According to the Colorado News Agency:
A formal request made earlier this year…asked the state auditor to conduct preliminary research into the activities of the PUC. The findings of the state auditor will be used for the committee to make a determination as to whether a full audit is merited.
The letter outlines areas for evaluation including transparency, accountability to ratepayers, expenditures, the conduct of PUC members, and whether the commission is indeed living up to its role and mission as a watchdog for consumers.
Senator Renfroe said in the radio interview that the committee will get the “30,000 foot” report from the State Auditors Office at the next committee meeting on July 12 and 13. That report should contain a recommendation either for or against a more comprehensive audit of the embattled agency. Renfroe commented that he cannot predict what the report will say, but with all the questionable issues surrounding the PUC, he would be surprised if the recommendation was against a full audit. The committee then votes on the recommendation.
We’ve long thought that PUC reform is overdue and accused the commissioners of “gross dereliction of duty.” Hopefully this audit will be a first step in a direction more friendly to consumers and less cozy with industry, elected officials and special interests.