Hickenlooper still ‘gathering information’ on rural energy renewables mandate

Politics
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DENVER — The Democratic sponsors of Senate Bill 252, which will force rural electricity associations to draw more of its energy from renewable sources, ended the legislative session last week believing that Gov. John Hickenlooper was certain to sign their bill.

But on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the session ended, Hickenlooper told reporters that he’s still considering what to do with the measure.

On Tuesday, Hickenlooper met with both Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer that has several facilities in Colorado and supports the measure, and with Tri-States Generation and Transmission, which provides electricity to 18 state energy co-ops and has been the bill’s most outspoken opponent.

After those meetings, Hickenlooper’s Chief Strategist Alan Salazar told FOX31 Denver that the governor is “still gathering information.”

On Wednesday night, Americans For Prosperity’s Colorado chapter will hold another “Rally for Rural Colorado” at Johnson’s Corner; the group believes that the legislation will force rural Coloradans to pay higher energy bills.

S.B. 252 would require rural co-ops with more than 100,000 meters, and utilities that generate and supply electricity on behalf of member co-ops, to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The bill also would allow the cooperatives to charge more — 2 percent of a customer’s bill instead of just 1 percent now — to pay for the new power source.

Politically, Hickenlooper is weighing the benefits of a veto — appeasing rural Coloradans already upset over his decision to sign off on several Democratic gun bills and the symbolism of taking a stand against his own party — with the potential costs.

Having worked to modify some proposed Democratic oil and gas regulations and opposing other bills outright, Hickenlooper has already alienated environmental groups; vetoing S.B. 252 would be tantamount to a declaration of political war against an important piece of the Democratic base.

Hickenlooper also wavering on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

And, according to his staff, Hickenlooper is still undecided on whether he’ll sign another bill that will allow undocumented immigrants to get Colorado driver’s licenses.

That conflicts with what the governor reportedly told some of the Latino advocates who have supported the bill; they’ve told FOX31 that Hickenlooper told them he plans to sign the bill.

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