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


jerry carlton 3 years, 11 months ago

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


jerry carlton 3 years, 11 months ago

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


Fred Duckels 3 years, 11 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, 11 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, 11 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, 11 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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