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