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Coloradans Promote Energy Alternatives

Photo: Pheasant hunting outside of Haxtun, CO near the Xcel wind power plant. Courtesy Lew Carpenter, NWF.
Photo: Pheasant hunting outside of Haxtun, CO near the Xcel wind power plant. Courtesy Lew Carpenter, NWF.
December 3, 2012

WASHINGTON - There's only a handful of days left for Congress to act on two pieces of legislation which could help spur development of renewable energy sources in Colorado and across the nation. So a group of Coloradans is heading to Washington this week. They want to help convince local lawmakers of the importance of setting aside some public lands for renewable-energy development, and extending the Wind Production Tax Credit, which helps support development on private lands.

Mike Bowman is one of those Coloradans in D.C. The fifth-generation Wray-area farmer says he knows some people may worry that solar panels or windmills could harm wildlife corridors on public lands, but he thinks smart development is key.

"I like to default back to science and data. We have a good idea of clearly where we can put these projects in. We don't have to disturb pristine or very sensitive areas."

Ten percent of money from leases in the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act would go toward deficit reduction, and a fourth would offset wildlife impacts. The bill is co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. But both it and renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit have yet to make it to a Congressional vote this year.

Bowman says he'll be talking to his congressman, Cory Gardner, because his Fourth District is currently benefiting from credit-spurred development at projects such as the huge Xcel wind plant in Logan County, which is valued at a billion dollars.

"When you look at the vast resources in CD4, the wind and solar resources alone, Cory has some of the most valuable assets in Congress."

Critics such as Americans for Prosperity say the credit is just too expensive.

Colorado Senator Mark Udall however supports both pieces of legislation. He's taken to the Senate floor in a series of speeches - like this one from last week - arguing the U.S. can't afford to let the credit expire.

"Here in the Congress we've gone back and forth repeatedly between extending it and retiring it. And this has contributed to a boom-bust cycle that threatens the future of this industry and our energy security in turn. "

But the clock is ticking. Congress is scheduled to break for the holidays on December 14.


Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO