Colorado Renewable Energy Standards Under Attack In The State Senate

02/09/2011 12:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Republicans in the Colorado Senate are attacking new renewable energy requirements they say are hurting consumers.

The state Senate will debate a bill on Wednesday that would undo a requirement that utilities get 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Senate Bill 71 would roll that requirement back to 10 percent, a renewable energy standard utilities have already achieved

The Democratic legislature passed the higher renewable energy standard last year. The law allowed utilities to charge customers up front for the expense of switching to renewable energy. Republicans like Shawn Mitchell, who is leading the opposition to higher clean energy requirements, say that it's driving up energy costs for Coloradans.

"Voters approved a substantial move toward alternative energy as a reasonable step to see if it's practical and cost-effective," Mitchell told Statebill Colorado. "This green fantasy of pushing it up to 20 and then 30 percent slaps voters in the face. It punishes voters by replacing a modest experiment with an extreme one."

Democratic Senator Gail Schwartz of Snowmass, who sponsored the 2010 legislation that raised the standard to 30%, countered that the bill will help foster a growing industry (alternative energy) and bolster the state's reputation.

"This is a sector of the economy demonstrating growth, new jobs and investment," Schwartz told Statebill. "Our leadership on renewable energy development has brought Colorado national and international attention. This bill is backwards thinking."

The Republicans' plan faces long odds in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The energy hearing was originally scheduled last week, but it was canceled because of bad weather.