My View From The Country

Colorado Ag Faces Devastating Energy Cost Hike

According to the experts, a new law, passed, but still unsigned by Colorado’s governor, will raise the cost of electricity by 25% for rural Colorado.

This spring, state legislatures around the country have demonstrated just how important it is for cattlemen to be involved and support their state associations. I can’t highlight all the potentially devastating pieces of legislation that have been proposed, defeated or, unfortunately in a few cases, passed in legislatures across the country. I’ll use just one example here in Colorado.

It was one of those high-minded bills intended to encourage renewable energy. The particulars aren’t important, but the measure essentially called for more than doubling over the next 20 years the percentage of energy that Colorado rural cooperatives would have to acquire from renewable sources.

According to the experts, such a law will raise the cost of electricity by 25% for rural Colorado, and will devastate agriculture, which relies heavily on energy for crop irrigation. However, the bill passed and we’re now waiting to see if the governor will sign it.

California and a few other states have long had to deal with the fact that rural interests have very little say politically, but it’s a new phenomenon in Colorado. We’ve been forced to learn quickly how to deal with this new reality, and function in this altered environment.

The important thing to realize here is that this was the only devastating bill that appears like it might pass in its entirety here in Colorado. Many more were introduced, but our ag-lobbying groups were able to amend, stop, or at least mitigate, a lot of the damage of other measures.  

There’s a tendency in our industry to focus on the potentially damaging effects of federal legislation and regulation, and that’s justified. But with the federal government seemingly unable to do much of anything (let’s all be a little thankful for the gridlock everyone seems to decry), the state legislatures have taken upon themselves to put forth their own bonehead legislation. Often times, the intentions are noble; they simply have no concept of the consequences. We have our state lobbying groups because they are very much needed, and we need to support them to protect our interests.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

rex (not verified)
on May 9, 2013

Politics at its best is a tool to accomplish something together.
Politics at its worst is a means to get you to pay my way. Does the alternative energy bill qualify for the latter?

Doug Packer (not verified)
on May 10, 2013

Devastating? Hardly! I would gladly accept a 25% cost increase when many other inputs double and sometimes quadruple in cost over 20 years. An added benefit is the diversification in energy sources that hold costs in line over the long haul.

However, my question is with these economics in mind why is legislation required at all?

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 15, 2013

Farmers and ranchers receive plenty of help from the taxpayers, WHIP, EQUIP and other cost share programs plus disaster assistance in times of drought or flooding. A projected cost increase of 25% on electricity at some future date, may allow for some planning to offset that increase. The us vs them is wearing thin.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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