Amendment 37 |

Amendment 37

** FILE ** Wind turbines spin in the Columbia River Gorge at FPL Energy's Stateline Wind Project on the Oregon-Washington border near Touchet, Wash., March 6, 2003. Environmental groups are pushing ballot initiatives for more wind-power electrical generation in the West, but industry officials responded Thursday Feb. 5, 2004, that the inconsistent nature of wind power will always relegate it to a supporting role in meeting the region's demand for power. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

This amendment wants to increase the amount of renewable energy ” wind, solar and water ” that large energy providers will be required to make available to consumers over the next 10 years.

It seeks to increase renewable energy production by 10 percent by 2015.

Only 2 percent of power used in the state now comes from renewable energy.

Proponents say it’s time for Colorado to use its abundant wind and solar power to decrease demand for fossil fuels and that by decreasing their use, the new technology will have the twin benefits of cleaning up the air and creating jobs. States like Maine get up to 30 percent of their energy from clean, sustainable sources.

Opponents, mostly the state’s largest power providers, say the measure will cost up to $1 billion over the next 20 years and that that cost will be largely borne by businesses. They also say renewable sources of energy are not as dependable as fossil fuels.

DENVER ” Colorado is the first state in the nation to place renewable energy on its ballots, thanks in part to grassroots support from Summit County.

On Nov. 2, Colorado voters will decide whether to require the state’s seven largest utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from environmentally-friendly sources like wind power by 2015.

The Colorado Secretary of State certified tens of thousands of petition signatures on Tuesday, securing the initiative’s spot on the ballot as Amendment 37. Volunteers and campaign workers collected several thousand signatures from visitors and residents in Summit County and statewide, 114,000 people signed the petition, more than 20,000 signatures are needed to place it on the ballot.

“People who live there see the value of protecting clean air,” said Justin Dawe, campaign organizer for Environment Colorado. “Also, tourists who come up to Summit County are in the frame of mind to be supportive. All in all, we had a great experience there. The response was positive every time.”

Dawe sent teams of petitioners to the streets of Summit County from his office in Boulder three days a week for a month and a half to gather signatures.

Mark Campione of Silverthorne was among those who signed the petition.

“I’ve been a proponent of renewable energy for over 25 years,” Campione said. “It reduces our dependence on foreign oil, keeps our air cleaner, creates good-paying jobs and reduces our need to drill in western Colorado.”

Campione plans to campaign for the initiative as election day draws closer.

“I will definitely give any help they might need. It will be good for our state and our country. I encourage people to vote for it,” Campione added.

To date, 16 states have adopted renewable energy requirements through legislation. The majority of Colorado’s electricity now comes from coal and natural gas.

Two percent comes from renewable sources.

Xcel Energy, the company that supplies Summit County’s electricity, has come out against the renewable energy initiative.

“When it shifted to percentages of our entire portfolio, that’s when we shifted our support (against the proposal),” said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Margarita Alarcon. “We are the second-largest reseller of renewable energy in the nation, and we’re planning on tripling our wind power.”

Alarcon said that the initiative, if passed, would “really hit customers in their pocketbooks,” to the tune of $580 million to $1.6 billion over 20 years.

Environment Colorado executive director Matt Baker disagreed.

“Wind is cheaper than anything else,” Baker said. “Most peer-reviewed studies conclude that wind energy will save consumers money.”

While Colorado is leading the bandwagon on this issue, states like Minnesota and Texas have developed more considerable efforts to develop wind power grids.

” Julie Sutor

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