A liberal Congressman and conservative state representative breezed through Colorado Springs last week to praise renewable energy.
U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat, and state Rep. Lola Spradley, the Republican speaker of the House, balked at the suggestion they were an unlikely duo to lead the campaign for Amendment 37.
"You can always find some common ground," Spradley said.
The amendment, on the Nov. 2 ballot, seeks to make at least 3 percent of energy in Colorado renewable by 2007, rising to 10 percent by 2015. State utilities would be required to reach those goals using wind, solar, hydro-electricity and other kinds of power.
Most of the amendment's financial backing so far has come from Environment Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit environmental group. But Udall and Spradley noted other organizations, like the American Lung Association and Colorado Farm Bureau, are supporting the initiative because it would reduce air pollution and allow farmers and industry to harvest the energy created by the wind and sun.
"Jobs are going overseas," Udall said. "This is going to help with the creation of jobs here."
Spradley finished his sentence, "And they can't be outsourced."
But some power companies oppose the proposal. Xcel Energy Inc., the state's largest energy provider, has flip-flopped from its position earlier this year supporting failed legislation that called for increases in renewable energy. Now, Xcel spokesman Steve Roalstad says Amendment 37 would cost consumers "millions and millions of dollars. "
The nonpartisan voter guide assembled by the state -- called the "blue book" -- noted that many factors make predicting real costs extremely difficult, including the unknown future price of natural gas and the amount of solar power a utility uses.
Locally, less than 1 percent of the energy offered by Colorado Springs Utilities would qualify under the amendment, said utilities spokeswoman Rachel Beck. That is far less than utilities officials had initially hoped.
Earlier this year, City Council, which oversees the utility, sent lobbyists to defeat the proposed state law to increase renewable energy -- even though the measure would not have applied to the city. The council could take a stand on Amendment 37 later this month, pending financial analysis.
-- Michael de Yoanna
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