Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has appointed Pam Patton to the Public Utilities Commission, replacing outgoing member Matt Baker, former executive director of Environment Colorado. During Baker’s tenure, the PUC adopted renewable energy policies that clearly benefited behemoth Xcel Energy, to the detriment of both consumers and smaller energy producers.
Patton’s appointment appears to be an upgrade to the PUC, as evidenced by the skepticism of her by environmentalists when she was named.
Patton is a board member of La Plata Electric Association (LPEA), a rural electric co-op. LPEA is a member of Tri-State, which had opposed the ill-considered SB12-178, which was eventually tabled in the state Senate.
What’s unclear is how Patton’s departure from the LPEA will affect the LPEA’s 12-member board. In recent elections, two of four “Fabulous Four” renewable energy candidates running as a ticket were elected to the board, including one, Heather Erb, from Patton’s own District 4. Erb sees Europe, particularly Germany, as a model for Colorado:
“I had the chance to study renewable energy in both Germany and Austria last year, and I learned that smart energy policies has (sic) made energy producers out of hundreds of thousands of farmers there,” said Erb in a video posted in April. “They’ve created green jobs. And actually, the typical German energy farmer makes about a quarter of his income from his farm, from wind or solar or biogas. And these are programs and policies that we really should be working on now.”
Erb should have paid closer attention while she was over there.
The German renewables program has been far from a screaming success. The subsidies, far from keeping prices stable, have and will continue to drive up costs by hundreds of dollars a year for the typical family, with up to 600,000 Germans having their power cut off for lack of payment. And the government has found it difficult to reduce the solar subsidy in the face of pressure to support German manufacturers against cheap Chinese competition.
Still, there’s hope. If 25% of the typical energy farmer’s revenue is from energy rather than crops, at least we know they haven’t fallen for the ethanol ruse.