Earth, wind and fire 

Energy companies want to kill popular energy proposal

click to enlarge Wind turbines will be a more common sight if - amendment 37 passes.
  • Wind turbines will be a more common sight if amendment 37 passes.

Amendment 37

Bipartisan backers of renewable energy are optimistic: Two major polls recently showed upwards of three-quarters of Coloradans support Amendment 37.

But with the state's largest energy provider dumping millions of dollars to defeat the initiative, they aren't celebrating yet.

"We're ready now for the barrage of lies and deception that Xcel [Energy] is going to put out," said Manolo Gonzalez-Estay, a spokesman for Coloradans for Clean Energy, of the anticipated backlash.

Amendment 37, on the Nov. 2 ballot, would require that, by 2007, at least 3 percent of energy in Colorado be wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric or other renewable energy. By 2015, the amount would rise to 10 percent.

Xcel Energy, which serves 3.2 million customers in Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and other states, is leading a political committee to defeat the initiative. The company and several supportive energy providers have stoked opposition through Citizens for Sensible Energy Choices.

With more than $1 million already in its war chest, the group is warning voters that the initiative will cost them "millions and millions" of dollars -- even up to $1.5 billion.

But Xcel declined to provide documentation backing up the claim.

Under the initiative, the maximum rate increases for each residential consumer can be no more than 50 cents a month. Opponents counter that businesses and government entities, such as schools, will bear the burden of additional rate increases.

Colorado's speaker of the House of Representatives, Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., are the co-chairs of the committee backing the amendment. They maintain it will help create lasting job growth in rural Colorado and prevent pollution along the Front Range.

Several respected groups and organizations, including the Colorado Farm Bureau and the American Lung Association, support the initiative.

The Colorado Springs City Council, which earlier this year helped defeat a renewable energy bill in the state Legislature, opposes the initiative.

The city's utility currently uses less than 1 percent renewable energy.

-- Michael de Yoanna


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