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RMFU applauds push for renewable sources of energy in Colorado

The Colorado Senate Public Policy and Planning Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would push Colorado utilities to include more renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar and biomass in their portfolios.

S.B. 180, sponsored by Sen. Terry Phillips, D-Louisville, calls for utilities to ramp up renewable sources to 10 percent of their portfolios by the year 2010. “This bill sets a relatively aggressive standard,” said Rocky Mountain Farmers Union president John Stencel. “Given the success of these standards in other states, it is an attainable goal.”

Texas, the home of the oil boom, passed a renewable standard in 1999. Since the implementation of that standard, production of wind energy in Texas has surpassed each incremental goal set in law. “The market-based approach for pushing renewable fuels is one we fully support,” said Stencel. “This will create an open, competitive marketplace for farmers, ranchers and developers of all sizes.”

“While ‘green’ energy fits within our policies of environmental stewardship, it is the cold, hard economics that make a renewable standard appealing for farmers and ranchers,” said Stencel.

Annuities from the placement of wind turbines vary from $1,000 per year to tens of thousands of dollars per year, depending on proximity of the wind farm to transmission lines, and whether landowners choose to use a wind developer, or develop the wind themselves.

With prices for corn, wheat and beans at record lows, and producers wondering how much longer they can hold out, now is the time to create markets for alternative commodities. Wind, solar and biomass are some of those alternative commodities. “Our members need some alternatives soon,” said Stencel. “This renewable portfolio standard represents an excellent opportunity to rekindle economic prosperity in rural Colorado.”

S.B. 180 is expected to be heard on second reading in the Senate on Monday. The bill passed out of the committee on a 4-2 party-line vote. Voting in favor were Sens. Ed Perlmutter, D-Westminster; Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland; Pat Pascoe, D-Denver; and Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo. Voting in opposition to the bill were Sens. John Andrews, R-Arapahoe Co., and Andy McElhany, R-Colo. Spgs. Not voting was Sen. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Ft. Morgan.