Press Release updated: Aug 25, 2018 11:27 MDT

DENVER, August 25, 2018 – Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to begin deliberations soon on the Colorado Energy Plan and rural leaders from the Eastern Plains recently submitted a joint letter of support to the PUC highlighting the importance of the plan to their region’s economy and to ratepayers across the state.

In the letter (included below), seven county commissioners from Logan, Prowers, Yuma and Cheyenne counties outlined the economic benefits that the Colorado Energy Plan would have by spurring new investment in rural Colorado. The Commissioners wrote:

“Colorado’s rural communities face unique challenges and opportunities that are not shared by urban centers along the Front Range. Rural Colorado has fallen behind in key economic areas and it is affecting our local communities. Serving as a leader in renewable energy production is not only a source of pride in our counties but it is a key economic factor that will help us grow and strengthen our local communities. Rural Colorado stands ready to deliver the benefits of the Colorado Energy Plan across the entire state.”

Community leaders from across the Eastern Plains showed their strong support for the Colorado Energy Plan. It's especially telling that commissioners from counties that stand to gain absolutely nothing from the CEP recognize that it's good for ratepayers and for rural Colorado.

Greg Brophy

Colorado Director of The Western Way

Greg Brophy, director of The Western Way’s Rural Energy Network, applauded the support for the plan saying, Community leaders from across the Eastern Plains showed their strong support for the Colorado Energy Plan. It's especially telling that commissioners from counties that stand to gain absolutely nothing from the CEP recognize that it's good for ratepayers and for rural Colorado.”

Colorado Public Utilities Commission
1560 Broadway
Suite 250
Denver, CO 80202

RE: Electric Resource Plan 16A-0396E

Dear Commissioners Ackermann, Koncilja, and Moser:

As elected officials and community leaders from rural Colorado, we encourage the PUC to approve the Colorado Energy Plan. We believe the Colorado Energy Plan would broadly benefit consumers across the state and provide specific positive impacts to communities across rural Colorado.

We reviewed the Colorado Energy Plan with healthy skepticism, but the evidence of its positive economic impacts has become clear. The CU Leeds College of Business economic impact analysis projects that the Colorado Energy Plan would create 2,000 jobs and inject $204 million into the state economy over the next five years. This analysis follows and confirms the PUC’s “120 Day Report” that found the Colorado Energy Plan would drive $2.5 billion state investments and save Colorado ratepayers over $200 million. 

The corollary economic impact on Colorado’s rural counties cannot be understated. Rural Colorado is proud to be a leader in renewable energy production, delivering reliable energy resources that support competitive energy rates across the state. The increase in renewable energy projects in rural communities has had a significant positive impact on our local economies. These economic benefits extend well beyond the short-term construction phase. The long-term assets proposed for construction increase the local tax base which helps fund local services, public safety, schools, and libraries. The projects provide desirable and high paying jobs that keeps local workers in our communities and drive new vocational training at local community colleges. For projects on private land, local land owners receive stable long-term lease payments that reduce reliance on erratic commodity prices.

Progressive 15, a Northeastern Colorado Chamber, conducted an economic analysis specifically focused on the impacts renewable energy projects have on Colorado’s Eastern Plains counties. The report concluded:  

“The total direct and indirect economic benefit of construction and investment activity in renewable energy facilities in eastern Colorado from 2000 to 2016 was an estimated $2.7 billion in total output ($1.3 billion direct output + $1.4 billion indirect and induced output) produced by 5,919 worker-years (2,595 direct employees + 3,324 indirect employees) earning a total of about $302.6 million ($154.2 million direct earnings + $148.4 indirect earnings) during the construction period.”

This data demonstrates that past investment in utility-scale renewable projects has yielded an economic multiplier effect that has more than doubled the initial direct investment. The same report found that the total direct and indirect economic benefits of operating eastern Colorado’s renewable energy facilities is an estimated $138.7 million in total annual output. These data points demonstrate how impactful the Colorado Energy Plan would be across rural Colorado.

Colorado’s rural communities face unique challenges and opportunities that are not shared by urban centers along the Front Range. Rural Colorado has fallen behind in key economic areas and it is affecting our local communities. Serving as a leader in renewable energy production is not only a source of pride in our counties but it is a key economic factor that will help us grow and strengthen our local communities. Rural Colorado stands ready to deliver the benefits of the Colorado Energy Plan across the entire state.

To be clear, this letter does not express judgment on any existing, pending or future project permits. That said, we strongly support the Colorado Energy Plan and believe it balances the need for energy infrastructure updates with a focus on lowering consumer rates. Thank you for your consideration of this letter and for your public service on behalf of our great state.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Joe McBride, Logan County

Commissioner Ron Cook, Prowers County

Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade, Prowers County

Commissioner Thomas Grasmick, Prowers County

Commissioner Trent Bushner, Yuma County

Commissioner Rod Pelton, Cheyenne County

Commissioner Patrick Ward, Cheyenne County

Greg Brophy is director of The Western Way’s Rural Energy Network, a coalition of Colorado community leaders advocating for policies that maximize energy development in rural communities. (http://www.thewesternway.org/ren).

For Background: A recent economic analysis conducted under a partnership between Rural Energy Network and an eastern Colorado Chamber group demonstrated that renewable energy development has become an economic driver for Colorado’s rural economy and eastern Colorado would significantly benefit from additional renewable energy production in the state (See report: https://tinyurl.com/ybz6byq2).  

The Western Way (www.TheWesternWay.org) is a nonprofit organization urging Western conservative leaders to acknowledge actual environmental challenges and deliver efficient, pro-market solutions.

Source: The Western Way

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