Fight continues against unreasonable renewable mandate legislation

As a renewable energy mandate bill continues to make its way through the Colorado legislature, Tri-State, its member co-ops, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and several business organizations, agriculture industries, labor unions and rural communities are ramping up their opposition efforts to call out an unfair and misguided legislative process that would have disastrous consequences for the state’s rural economy.

Numerous electric cooperative board members and staff were on hand during the Senate committee’s hearing on the renewable energy bill.

Numerous electric cooperative board members and staff were on hand during the Senate committee’s hearing on the renewable energy bill.

Senate Bill 252, which would require Tri-State to derive 25 percent of its generation mix from renewable resources within the next six and a half years, was introduced on April 3 – well into the legislature’s 120-day session – without any opportunity for consultation or input from the G&T, its member systems or electric co-op member-consumers. It’s estimated that compliance would cost Tri-State up to $4 billion over the next 20 years.

“To be clear, Tri-State and our member systems support the use of renewable energy,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson, “but we oppose unrealistic mandates and we object to being blindsided by a bill so late in the legislative session. At no time prior to the introduction of this bill did its sponsors or its proponents contact us or our co-ops to discuss the bill or its impacts.”

The bill was heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee just four days after it was introduced. After a seven hour hearing – during which the members of the majority party failed to ask a single question of the dozens of electric co-op member-owners in attendance – the bill was passed out of committee on a party line 3-2 margin. The measure was then passed by the full Senate, winning approval by a single vote.

It is now being debated in the state House of Representatives. If adopted there, it would eventually end up on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk to potentially be signed into law (or he could veto it).

“Working with CREA and our members, Tri-State will continue to oppose the bill as it works through the legislative process,” said Tri-State senior manager of government relations Dave Lock. “Our message to the legislators continues to focus on the exorbitant costs Tri-State and our members would incur and the real harm it would do to the state’s rural economy.”

Efforts to communicate the bill’s threat to rural consumers also continue through earned media (newspaper and radio interviews), paid media (advertising) and ongoing grassroots outreach activities.

SB-252-KEA-adThe Rural Economic Action Alliance (REA-A), which is supported by Tri-State and CREA, continues to aggressively hold legislators accountable through its “Keep Electricity Affordable” campaign. This week, a new round of REA-A radio messages are hitting the airwaves, along with a newly-produced television commercial that focuses on the broad coalition and numerous newspapers that have come out in opposition of the bill (which includes the Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette, Pueblo Chieftain and Grand Junction Daily Sentinel).

Electric cooperative advocates are encouraged to get involved by supporting the Keep Electricity Affordable initiative as well as using CREA’s Take Action Network.

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