Colorado governor’s executive order quashes renewable energy law

Although Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that would require rural electric cooperatives in the state to produce 20 percent of their power through renewable resources by 2020, the governor also signed an executive order preventing implementation of the law, according to the Greeley Tribune.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement that the bill represents the general direction the state needs to move, but the bill itself is flawed, according to the report.

“This legislation will expand economic opportunities across Colorado through the development of wind, solar, and other innovative energy resources” Rural areas, in particular, will benefit economically from the expansion of renewable resources because the vast majority of renewable resources are located outside of the state’s urban centers. For example, this bill will expand construction and manufacturing opportunities in rural areas through large wind and solar projects and will create jobs in the newly eligible waste-to-energy and coal mine methane industries,” according to a statement on the website for Hickenlooper’s office.

Rather than implementing the bill, the governor’s executive order creates an advisory committee that will address the cost and feasibility concerns of people affected by the bill.

“The reasons for signing the legislation outweigh the reasons for vetoing the bill, but this bill is imperfect,” the order says. “Some of the concerns raised during the legislative process were not given due consideration. Top among these concerns are the feasibility of the implementation timetable and consumer protections. The advisory committee will work to fully address these concerns, culminating in proposals for the 2014 legislative session,” according to the statement.

Opponents of the bill have estimated the cost to be as much as $3 billion, which would be passed on to rural electric customers, according to the Tribune report.

The new renewable portfolio standard (also known as a renewable electricity standard) requires electricity providers that service at least 100,000 meters to derive at least 20 percent of their electric power from renewable sources by 2020. This doubles the RPS that the state enacted in 2007 under Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat.

Proponents of the law said the law will help customers who want to power their homes with renewable energy have greater access to electricity sourced from wind or solar power projects. Colorado Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush said the law will create or maintain some 19,000 jobs in Colorado.

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