Not only has Gov. Bill Ritter promised to sign a major water quality bill designed to protect the Arkansas River and other basins in the state from environmental damage, the Democrat also said he would approve another measure dear to Puebloans’ hearts.
In a conference call Friday, the new governor said he would sign a measure Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, have introduced that would increase Southern Colorado’s representation on the Colorado State University Board of Governors.
The measure, similar to one that the two Pueblo legislators introduced last year, would require that at least two people on the nine-member board appointed by the governor either live in Southern Colorado or be a CSU-Pueblo graduate.
To be fair to Fort Collins residents, Tapia said this year’s measure would do the same for Northern Colorado, requiring that at least two reside in Larimer County or be a graduate of the CSU-Fort Collins campus.
“A lot of times the (board) representatives that the governor selects are not graduates or residents of Pueblo or Fort Collins, but they are people who have certain skills that the system needs,” Tapia said.
“The lion’s share of the members of the board are from the Denver area. I think we need to have people on the board who are associated with the community.”
Ritter agreed that both areas deserve to know they always will have local representation on the board.
In his State of the State speech on Thursday, the governor said he supported a measure that McFadyen plans to introduce with Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, to allow wind power and other renewable energy companies to begin to recoup the expense of building new infrastructure while a project is under way. Under current rules, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission generally doesn’t allow such recovery until after a project is complete except in special circumstances.
On Friday, Ritter added that he also liked a related measure that Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, plan to introduce, which would create a statewide renewable energy authority with bonding powers.
The measure was spurred by a situation in Baca County, where several wind-farm companies have expressed an interest to build plants there but haven’t, because there are no transmission lines to move that power onto the grid.
Ritter said that measure and McFadyen’s would go well with each other.
“I’ve had a couple of different conversations with very significant companies who are looking at building out wind farms of sizable capacity on the Eastern Plains,” the governor said of the need to erect high-voltage transmission lines.
“This has been their major impediment. If we’re really going to capture wind energy, if we’re really going to build it out in a way that I believe we can, we have to work with utilities to be able to build out the transmission grid as well,” he said.
By Charles Ashby
Chieftain Denver Bureau
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