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March 09, 2010 08:11 PM UTC

Renewable energy trumps partisan rhetoric

  • by: Bowman for Senate

Mike Bowman, District 1 candidate for the Colorado State Senate, said the March 5 legislative passage of an increased renewable energy standard marks a significant win for the state’s rural economies.

The legislation, House Bill 1001, sets a new target of 30% energy generation from renewable resources by 2020, an increase over the 20% standard currently in place. The bill provides incentives for development of solar energy generation, as well as other renewable resources.

“What this standard does is set a basis for the market to capitalize on our abundant resources in rural Colorado,” Bowman said, adding that bill sponsors Gail Schwartz (D-Snow Mass), Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus), Max Tyler (D-Golden), and other supporters of the initiative should be commended for “prevailing against personal and professional attacks of partisan grandstanding that masqueraded as valid legislative debate.”

The bill, which had strong backing from Governor Bill Ritter, passed with a 21-13 vote after being hotly debated on the Senate floor for roughly eight hours during Thursday and Friday sessions. Arguments were divided sharply along party lines as GOP law makers introduced 11 separate amendments attacking virtually every tenet of the legislation.

Opposition points ranged from language limiting consumer cost increases to 2 percent – in keeping with current statutes – to license requirements for equipment installation, projected job development, accusations of selective treatment to corporate interests, and the renewable requirement at the heart of the legislation.

Senate Republicans set a decidedly hostile tone of sarcasm, accusations of special-interest pandering, and even an instance of name-calling egregious enough to prompt a gavel reprimand.  

Bowman, a long-time rural development advocate, said he has been closely monitoring the bill’s progress and, though he was not surprised that there was some debate over the measure, he was disappointed and aggrieved by the nature of the arguments presented.

“Arguments that are purely motivated by politics disrespect public interests and trivialize the entire process,” Bowman said, citing as an example statements made by Greg Brophy, (R-Wray), who currently holds the Senate seat for SD1.

Brophy said the legislation made false promises regarding job creation, basing his argument on a Spanish university study on renewable energy jobs. Bill sponsor Schwartz later disputed the argument by pointing out the study had been commissioned by natural gas interests and refuted by the Wall Street Journal. Referring to Brophy, Bowman said that promoting partial and misinformation is a dangerous route to take.

“It’s irresponsible to make that kind of claim,” Bowman said, “especially if you know it’s not really true. Mr. Brophy doesn’t need to look any further than his own back yard for proof that renewable energy creates jobs. Look at the billion-dollar investment in Logan County that is a direct result of the state’s current 20-percent renewable energy standard.

“To suggest that doesn’t translate into jobs – directly and indirectly – is an assault on eastern Colorado counties where they’re looking for solutions and economic development. I know because I’ve been to the wind farms and seen the excitement of the locals when they talk about it.”

Bowman also lambasted Republicans who supported amendments proposing the bill should actually dial back renewable standards from 20 percent to 10 percent. That proposal was made on the basis that a free market should be the only driver of renewable energy development.

“Moving the standard back would have denied rural Colorado and the entire state of a real and valuable opportunity to utilize its resources,” Bowman said. “And if renewable standards had been left entirely to a free market, they would have never built that first turbine project in Lamar. The (Public Utilities Commission) had to make that happen.

“And a free market would have denied the public a chance to have their voices heard on Amendment 37,” Bowman said, in reference to the 2004 ballot initiative which set the original renewable energy standard of 10 percent.

“An unrestrained free market is not always equipped to balance societal needs with business interests. Administrators pretty much let the banking industry have a free market model, and look how well that worked.

“I’m all for minimizing government whenever it’s feasible, but when a market refuses to address societal concerns – real concerns such as progressive job creation and encouraging development of all our state’s natural resources – that’s when legislative guidance becomes necessary.

“To suggest otherwise for the sake of partisan politics is careless, reckless, and self serving.”  


4 thoughts on “Renewable energy trumps partisan rhetoric

  1. Colorado voters have, time and time again, voted in support of renewable energy.  We took a big step in the right direction with the 30% renewable energy bill. Enthusiastic support of this bill and others that support sustainable energy in Colorado is what will get Bowman elected even in this traditionally R district.  

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