Renewable energy measure in crosshairs at Johnstown rally as rural ratepayers ask governor: ‘Veto this bill’
Farmers and rural homeowners in Northern Colorado on Wednesday added their voices to a statewide chorus calling on Gov. Hickenlooper to veto a bill certain to raise their electric bills.
Senate Bill 252, one of the most controversial pieces of law to emerge from the 2013 legislative session, would raise to 20 percent the required share of rural electric power generated through solar and wind power plants.
The target date for the so-called renewable energy portfolio standard is 2020, giving rural power utilities just seven years to measure up.
A rally at a windy parking lot behind the landmark Johnson’s Corner Café and Truck Stop in Johnstown late Wednesday drew about 40 local residents, and a half dozen lawmakers who fought against the bill.
“I think if the governor were going to veto anything of significance from this session, it would be this bill,” Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said in an interview at the rally. “He needs to step up to the plate here.”
Members of the General Assembly from Larimer and Weld counties, all of them on the short ends of votes that sent the measure to the governor’s desk, took turns at a microphone on a flatbed trailer to fire up the small crowd, telling them their messages needed to reach the governor.
“Call the governor’s office tomorrow,” said Sean Paige, Colorado director of Prosperity for America, the group organizing the rally. “Be polite, but be firm. Tell these people you want their boss to veto this bill.”
Backers of the renewable energy bill said it contains an ironclad cap that would prevent any rural electric customer’s bill from rising more that 2 percent annually.
The speakers, and members of their audience, heaped doubt on that claim.
“They say that, but it ain’t true,” Myrna Story, a rural electric customer whose home is near Milliken, said as she waited for the next speaker to take the stage.
“It’s the government. Tell me the last time the government held the line on anything. They won’t hold the line on this, either.”
Freshman legislator Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Weld, said SB-252 would enrich renewable energy companies on the backs of rural ratepayers.
“It’s a green pork bill,” Humphrey said. “Maybe Dr. Seuss would like it, but I sure don’t.”
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