Colorado House passes controversial renewable energy mandate bill



Diane Mitsch Bush


Courtesy photo

Colorado House District 57 Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale

— A controversial bill that increases renewable energy mandates for rural electricity cooperatives was approved by the Colorado House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Colorado Senate Bill 13-252, which ups the renewable energy mandates from 10 percent to 20 percent by 2020, passed by a 37-27 vote.

Although the bill passed Tuesday, it did not make it out of the House completely unscathed. In its original version, which passed earlier this month in the Senate, the bill called for an increase in renewable energy mandates from 10 percent to 25 percent by 2020. An amendment dropping the mandate to 20 percent was passed last week in the House.

The bill specifically targets Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, operator of the coal-fired Craig Station power plant. Tri-State officials have been adamantly opposed to the legislation since it was first introduced in April.

Jim Van Someren, communications manager for Tri-State in Westminster, said the amendment reducing the mandate from 25 percent to 20 percent did little to soften the company's position against the legislation.

"We still oppose" the bill, Van Someren said.

The legislation would have a minimal impact on Yampa Valley Electric Association, which purchases its electricity from Xcel Energy.

The bill now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

House District 26 Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, voted in favor of the legislation, citing her belief that the bill is not an attack on "high-quality, high-BTU, low-sulphur, low-mercury Colorado coal," which she said will be a staple of Colorado energy production for the next 50 years.

"I voted 'yes' on SB 252 because I believe this legislation will help the private sector develop new green jobs and maintain the more than 19,000 clean energy jobs in Colorado," Mitsch Bush wrote in an email Tuesday night. "I heard from many constituents in the construction industry in our district (including Routt and Eagle counties) that renewable projects kept them going during the recession.

"New jobs and new businesses will emerge as the demand for renewables increases. This includes coal mine methane, biomass and pyrolysis of landfill materials."

Mitsch Bush previously voted for the bill in committee but said after her vote that she wouldn't support it on the House floor unless it was amended. She said she co-sponsored the amendment that reduced the requirement from 25 percent to 20 percent.

During his testimony Tuesday against the bill, Colorado House District 57 Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, said both sides of the aisle were guilty of presenting false arguments.

In an effort to stray from the focus of pitting fossil fuels against renewables or rural Colorado versus urban Colorado, Rankin told fellow representatives that SB 13-252 represented more than just a debate about energy.

“I came here to represent rural Colorado and I knew as a rural legislator I would be outnumbered and that I would have to fight for our heritage, but I didn’t expect I would have to fight this hard,” Rankin said. “We do not want to divide the two parts of our culture, we want to bring them together.

“We need to look at the big picture and not just support renewable (energy) lobbyists. We need to look at this as an opportunity to support the culture and the heritage of this state.”

But Rankin didn’t pass up the opportunity to slam the renewable energy industry.

“Wind energy is touted as a replacement for fossil fuel-powered generation, (but) since the wind blows intermittently and unpredictably, it must be backed up by fast-start natural gas generation for an average of 70 percent of the time,” Rankin said in a statement. “Since fast-start natural gas generation releases more carbon than slower started combined cycle natural gas generation, CO2 release is roughly the same for a wind farm with natural gas backup as full-time, combined cycle natural gas-powered generation.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or


Harvey Lyon 3 years, 9 months ago

This is a shame. It is a clearly special interest politically motivated illegal bill that will go down in flames in the courts for the simple reason that, absent a true need, it places a capricious and unfair burden on some residents and not others. If the standards and time lines are good enough for Gunnison, they're good enough for Denver, Steamboat and Boulder, politically protected communities.

Meanwhile millions of your dollars have been spent in the legislation process. More will be spent on the lawyers and legal battles.

What is also a shame is, in discussing this bill privately, Diane Mitsch Bush straight out lied to me regarding research she had conducted in forming an opinion on this bill. It was my first venture into "the political scene" and my first " town meeting". She, on a Sunday, told me certain people who I hold in regard for both their engineering knowledge and experience had advised her that it was a good bill. When I called them on Monday they told me they had advised her exactly the opposite. Frankly this will cause me to question anything she says in the future on a wide variety of subjects far and above this one bill. You should also.

Folks, I'm for wind energy up to 20% of the energy puzzle. But I'm also for folks that have $11 per hour jobs being able to afford throwing the switch without needing a federal handout. Diane Mitsch Bush is using her PHd in Sociology to figure she knows more than PHd's in engineering and years of power generation and experience. That's not a good place to be.

This bill will do nothing for the environment or reduction of green house gases. It will take money that could have been spent on other programs and waste it. It will give a good sound bite to the Democratic Party but at some time reality will hit and there will not be electrical power when you want'll wonder why and you'll truly be "in the dark". You also won't be able to complain to your elected representative, the phones will be out also :)

Harvey Lyon


jerry carlton 3 years, 9 months ago

How do you tell if any politician of any party is lieing? Their lips are moving.


Harvey Lyon 3 years, 9 months ago


She quoted me names and organizations said this. When I contacted them on Monday they stated, both over the phone, and by email, they had stated the exact opposite.

Two specific, would stand up in court cases. But also a bunch of sleezy implications and vague comments. So I can only say that she lied twice in about a 10 minute conversation...that I can prove with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me GOD.

First time I ever talked to a politician, last time I ever talk to a politician without a recorder and 2 witnesses.

She's a sleeze as a representative and I invite anyone to ask her indepth questions on any subject. Don't take my word for it, please call or talk to her in person. Aske her the where, when, and why. Pin her down.

You wouldn't want "Diane Mitsch Bush, State Representative" as your neighbor.

Harvey Lyon


jerry carlton 3 years, 9 months ago

Harvey I would not want 98% of carreer politicians as my neighbor.


Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

This is a steep slope, the left wins all arguements and can cover mistakes all the while turning the tables. Steve will probably soon enter the fray with volumes of refuting data showing how this is all a misunderstanding.


Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

Suppose that I have a man hired full time and another man comes along and wants a job. The problem here is that he wants only to work when it is convenient and wants ten times the pay. His rationale is that he will spend his paycheck and boost the economy. This seems much like the renewable fiasco. This makes logic to a liberal because the shortfall can easily be made up with volume.


mark hartless 3 years, 9 months ago

It makes sense because the electorate HAS no sense.

And, unlike YOUR business Fred, the gubbamint can charge its "customers" any damn price it wants.

And it can (and does) engage in as many ponzi schemes, kickback rackets, favor-doings, cronyisms, etc as the sheeple who empower it will fall for.

Baaaaahhh, Baaaaahhh


Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

It came out today that 29% of Americans believe that armed revolt may be necessary. That probably makes more sense than anything that I have heard lately.


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