Colorado ex-Gov. Bill Ritter on shortlist for both Energy and Interior posts

Both Gardner and Brophy are worried about Ritter’s priorities, should he be appointed to a Cabinet position.

“He practically waged all-out war on the fossil fuel industry trying to pump up his new energy economy,” Brophy said. “There was really no balance in the Ritter administration. He was hostile to the traditional fossil fuel industries and didn’t seem to care what it cost the average person.”

Indeed, a new report examining the financial impact of New Energy Economy legislation shows that Xcel Energy customers paid $484 million last year complying with the state’s tough new renewable energy standards and other clean energy measures, an amount that comprised 18 percent of Xcel’s total electricity sales in 2012.

The maximum retail rate impact of the new standards is capped by law at 2 percent.

William Yeatman, an energy policy analyst who wrote the report for the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Independence Institute in Colorado, called the findings “eye-popping.”

“That was kind of the most shocking part of the report,” he said. “We were confident that the New Energy Economy was going to cost far more than 2 percent, but we weren’t prepared for it to be nearly a half billion dollars.”

The report also found that the amount of energy generated under the new laws was less than Xcel’s surplus reserve.

“To put it another way,” the report states, “from a power market perspective, there was no need for the New Energy Economy, as the energy it yielded was superfluous.”

Part of the reason, Yeatman said, is because of low demand caused by the economic recession.

“If the economy overnight exploded and electricity demand went through the roof in Colorado, then one could say that the New Energy Economy contribution would help meet that demand,” he said. “The fact is, there is no real demand. We’re just adding superfluous energy, meaningless, needless energy for which there is no demand.”

Rep. Gardner said that the new energy secretary “ought to be somebody trying to figure out how to make abundant energy more affordable rather than trying to figure how to make abundant energy less abundant and more expensive.”

“I think Bill Ritter is a very good person,” Gardner said, “but I hesitate to think that the work he has done as the governor of Colorado would put him in a position to be leading the Department of Energy.”

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