Friday, October 15, 2004

colorado's amendment 37

ballot initiatives are no friend to good government. they're a non (or is it bi) partisan way to oversimplify complex issues and put them in front of underinformed voters. by nature, they're vulnerable to scare tactics, disinformation, and race-to-the-bottom public campaigns. but that doesn't mean that every initiative that makes the ballot is lousy, and colorado, with its ongoing conflict over public lands and the environment, has seen some mighty interesting ones.

amendment 37 establishes a renewable energy portfolio standard - meaning that 10% of colorado's energy must come from renewable sources (mainly wind, in this case) by 2015. seems fairly harmless and reasonable right ? 10% in 10 years ? who could argue with that ?

why, the enormously profitable utility, of course. they've even formed a nauseatingly named 'citizen' group to pimp their message on the company dime. a former employee of xcel energy notes:

Citizens for Sensible Energy Choices stated publicly that it is willing to spend up to $10 million to defeat the Amendment. Much of that money will go to advertising. It's still not clear whether ratepayer money finances this opposition; Xcel has refused publicly to account for its monetary and in-kind contributions to the issue committee. It also refused to account for its allegations that the Amendment will cost ratepayers an additional $580 million to $1.5 billion over the next 20 years, based on price forecasts for natural gas.

of course, those numbers are pure, unadulterated garbage. colorado's former consumer counsel took a look and concluded that "the rate impact will likely be negligible - it is most likely to lower rates by a penny a month for the average Colorado residential customer over the next 20 years. After my report was published, Congress reinstated tax credits for wind-energy producers, making those savings slightly larger. "

$10 million for a dirty and possibly illegal campaign to fight renewable energy ? let's hope coloradans can see through the profit-mongering charade and make the choice that benefits the residents of the state, rather than xcel's shareholders. and if you're a shareholder, its time to sell.

- LH


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