Columnists, Energy, Jon Caldara, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: Colorado media catching on to energy monopoly cronyism

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

Among the many things I don’t like to do in my crotchety old age is compliment the young people at 9news.

But kudos to Kyle Clark and team for refusing an exclusive interview with Gov. Jared Polis after his State of the State address on condition they also interview only Polis’ handpicked sycophants. It would have been even better if they published a list of all the other media outlets that agreed to his journalistic blackmail and took the exclusive interview.

Kyle’s reporting partner, Marshall Zelinger, has been on a jihad that Colorado’s media should have been on since 2007 regarding crony, energy monopoly utilities and what’s been making them wealthy on the backs of their captive customers.

Why should these questions have been asked back in 2007? Remember the ol’ mantra: “elections have consequences.”

That was after Colorado elected Bill Ritter as governor and his white whale was transferring Colorado to an economically unsustainable, feel-good energy system — the one we are now just starting to pay for in earnest. Just look at your energy bill.

Before then the private energy monopolies and their captive customers had a “grand bargain.” The bargain was simple. The monopolies were guaranteed a profit no matter what they did.

They provided energy, they got a guaranteed profit. They went out on a business lunch, got a guaranteed profit. They passed wind, got a guaranteed profit.

In exchange, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was to rule over those private monopolies making sure they provided the least cost energy to their captive customers. And all those companies, including the largest one, Xcel Energy, had to prove to there was absolutely, positively no other way to provide power for less cost.

If you remember we were lied to and told renewable energy would save money because the wind and sun are free.

Oh, that part’s true. But converting wind and sun to energy is insanely, madly, prohibitively expensive.

In 2007, under the direction of Ritter’s newly appointed PUC and its chair Ron Binz (who proudly exclaimed there will never be another new coal plant built in Colorado, even though carbon sequestration now means coal plants can be carbon neutral at very low costs) the PUC changed its mission from lowest cost to a fluffy feel-good mission of environmental and social values at “reasonable cost,” whatever the hell any of that means.

In other words, they removed the guardrails that protected customers so utility monopolies can do what evil monopolies do, run roughshod over their hostages.

The monopolies changed their business model. They now can make many times more profit.

Read the following over and over until you understand your energy bill: Companies like Xcel are no longer in the energy business; they are in the building stuff business, and triple charging their hostage customers for it.

Starting with Ritter, through John Hickenlooper and Jared Polis and all their evermore left-leaning legislatures and activist appointees, Xcel has funded and partnered with green organizations to lobby for cascading green energy laws, mandates and regulations.

Thanks to a rubberstamping PUC that no longer demands “lowest cost” from energy providers, your energy bills aren’t paying for energy. You’re mostly paying for building crap.

Case in point is the Comanche power plant down by Pueblo. Xcel takes out a mortgage to pay for it, passes that cost on to its customers.

Then they decide it needs to be rebuilt into the cleanest coal-fired power plant on the planet. So, they take out a second mortgage to refit it. The PUC rubber stamps it. Customers pay for two mortgages for the same power. This power plant is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2070. That’s 50 years from now!

So, of course, Xcel is now going to close it in a couple of years and replace it with more stuff like windmills.

That’s a third mortgage to pay for the windmills which, of course, the PUC rubber stamped. Well, the wind doesn’t blow all the time, so it must take out another mortgage to build backup gas generators and power lines for that too. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Congratulations, hostage customers. You are now paying multiple mortgages for the exact same bit of electricity and that’s just one of many, many scams.

It’s taken the mainstream media 16 years to ask questions. Ask faster! Maybe voters will think about the consequences.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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