Electric co-ops disappointed by Hickenlooper’s approval of SB-252

MEEKER I Colorado’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives are deeply disappointed that Gov. Jon Hickenlooper chose to sign Senate Bill 13-252, which doubles cooperative renewable energy mandates with no additional time for compliance and raises electric rates for rural Coloradans when they can least afford it.
“We met with Gov. Hickenlooper twice to discuss rural communities’ significant concerns with the bill,” said Kent Singer, executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association. “By the time the bill arrived at his desk, the many flaws in the bill could be addressed only with a veto.”
A broad range of stakeholders, including the state’s leading business groups, rural coalitions, agricultural producers and labor unions, joined Colorado’s electric cooperatives to ask the governor to veto the bill.
“Despite our efforts to reach out to proponents, the bill was introduced in the Legislature with no consultation with the state’s cooperatives and was rushed through the process with little time and effort by the legislative leadership to find compromise,” Singer said. “We asked the governor to veto the bill and convene an inclusive stakeholder process that could have led to a compromise.”
For electric cooperatives, the costs and the time required to implement the bill could be significant and include the construction of new transmission infrastructure to deliver electricity and new power plants to balance and back-up renewable resources.
“We shared with the governor how we are meeting our obligation under the existing renewable energy mandate and how the bill introduces new risks for our existing facilities and renewable projects that were planned prior to the introduction of the bill,” said Ken Anderson, general manager and executive vice president of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. “Regrettably for rural Coloradans, the governor chose to sign a flawed bill into flawed law.”
For Tri-State, the wholesale power supplier to 18 member electric cooperatives in Colorado and 26 member electric cooperatives in Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming, the new law impacts its current operations and its ongoing efforts to develop additional renewable resources. Tri-State issued a request for proposals for additional renewable energy resources earlier in 2013.
Tri-State and the impacted electric cooperatives will continue to evaluate the new law to determine appropriate next steps to best protect the interests of their member-owners and the communities that depend on Tri-State’s existing facilities.
Electric cooperatives support the expanded use of renewable energy and in 2007 worked collaboratively with the Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter to pass the existing 10 percent renewable energy standard for electric cooperatives.
“CREA and Tri-State want to thank the legislators who valiantly opposed the bill and the broad coalition that supported rural Colorado through the legislative process and with the governor,” Singer said. “Together they helped give voice to the reasoned concerns of rural Coloradans.”
White River Electric’s General Manager Dick Welle said, “White River Electric continues to be concerned with the costs associated with the SB 252’s mandates. Tri-State reported that the costs to comply with 252 were going to be significant, but at this point we just don’t know the exact dollar impact or when our consumer’s will see those increases.
“White River Electric will continue to work with CREA and Tri-State to explore the best possible ways to manage these consequences to our members,” he said.”