Amendment 37

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Oct 052004
 
Authors: Ryan Riggen

Environmentalists and utility companies are not seeing

eye-to-eye on one amendment that will be on this year’s ballot.

If passed, Amendment 37 will require energy companies to

increase the percentage of renewable energy used to provide

electricity.

The amendment would require utilities to derive 3 percent of

provided energy from renewable sources by 2007 and increase that

amount to 10 percent by 2015.

Steve Rolastad, spokesman for Xcel Energy, said that while the

utility company has supported renewable energy legislation in the

past, Amendment 37 is unreasonable.

“We want to pursue alternative resources but not in this way,”

Rolastad said. “Right now we are the number two wind power provider

in the nation.”

Xcel opposes this amendment because it requires the use of some

amount of renewable energy, regardless of the circumstances.

Currently, a Federal Production Tax Credit has been granted to

renewable energy providers to reduce their costs. Rolastad said

this credit is in place until the end of the year, but after that

he didn’t know whether the credit will be renewed.

“Nobody knows how long that would continue,” Rolastad said. “We

would be locked in (if it expires) and costs would have to be

passed on to our customers.”

Lola Spradley, Republican speaker of the Colorado House of

Representatives and co-chair of the campaign that supports

Amendment 37, said that the production tax is likely to remain.

“The production tax over it has never not been extended. The

issue is what bill it gets attached to,” Spradley said. “Bush just

signed a production tax credit in Iowa (Monday) morning.”

According to Rolastad, this is the first statewide ballot

initiative in regards to renewable energy in the country. He said

this amendment could cost an estimated $1.5 billion over the next

20 years.

“There are so many cost factors and so many unknowns,” Rolastad

said.

The amendment is supported by the Colorado Environmental

Coalition, which according to Monica Piergrossi, a member of the

coalition, represents about 150,000 Coloradans.

“Amendment 37 is going to help us reduce dependence on fossil

fuels and open up the market for cleaner fuels,” Piergrossi said.

“We are breaking out of oil dependence and moving toward a cleaner

future. Oil is not going to last forever.”

The Colorado Mining Association also opposes Amendment 37. The

association states on their Web site: “Amendment 37 is one of the

most complicated special interest ballot proposals ever forced on

voters. It’s a giant unfunded mandate requiring our state’s

utilities to meet arbitrary targets for more renewable energy. And

consumers will pay the bill.”

Spradley said she supports the legislation because it will help

expand renewable energy.

“Sixteen other states have renewable energy standards,” Spradley

said. “They’ve all been passed legislatively, this one is taken to

the consumers. There are subsidies for all sources of energy.”

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