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Renewable-energy bill killed 

A bipartisan bill that would have required Colorado's largest utility companies to produce more energy from renewable sources has been killed by the state Senate.

House Bill 1273, sponsored by Republican House Speaker Lola Spradley, was defeated by a voice vote in the Senate last week. It had passed the House on a 39-26 vote on Feb. 9.

The proposed law would have directed two private utilities in the state -- Xcel, which serves the Denver area, and Aquila, which serves the Pueblo area -- to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels over time and produce more energy from sources such as wind and solar power. Similar laws have been enacted in several other states.

Neither Xcel nor Aquila opposed the bill. Rather, the main opposition came from the City of Colorado Springs and the city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities, both of which directed their paid lobbyists to fight the proposal.

City officials said the bill posed a threat to the city's "home rule" authority, even though it wouldn't have affected Springs Utilities.

"There's no assurance that [this] wouldn't be carried over, at some point, to municipal utilities," said Steve Berry, a spokesman for the utility company, in January [see "Tilting at Windmills," Jan. 29, at www.csindy.com].

Vice Mayor Richard Skorman was the sole member of the Colorado Springs City Council who advocated against fighting the bill.

Colorado Springs Reps. Mark Cloer, Lynn Hefley and Michael Merrifield backed the bill in the House, while Reps. Bill Cadman, Richard Decker, Keith King, Dave Schultheis and Bill Sinclair voted against it. All are Republicans, except Merrifield, who is a Democrat.

-- Terje Langeland

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