By Amy Oliver Cooke and Michael Sandoval
Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter boasted that Colorado is at the “epicenter of America’s New Energy Economy” and that it would be a “lasting legacy” to our children and all future generations.
This past spring, Ritter, now paid $300,000 to direct Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy, took to the stage in a national debate to defend the motion, “Clean energy can drive America’s economic recovery.” He bragged about the 57 pieces of legislation he signed to create the “New Energy Economy,” but that wasn’t enough to convince the audience.
Another green zealot State Representative Max Tyler also claimed clean energy to be an economic panacea. In a March 2010 Denver Post guest editorial Tyler wrote that his bill (HB10-1001) to increase Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) for investor owned utilities such as Xcel Energy from 20 to 30 percent within the next decade would “create thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of jobs in the New Energy Economy” without “increasing energy costs.”
He also wrote that the higher RES would “stabilize or even lower” energy costs and “help us continue to balance our state budget”
Both men are wrong.
Energy rates continue to climb. Xcel customers have endured a 21 percent rate increase over the last six years with another 20 predicted over the next six, thus reducing consumers’ purchasing power. Continuing the trend of budget shortfall, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects Colorado’s 2012 budget shortfall to be $450 million, 6.2 percent of the state’s general fund.
And the jobs? They never materialized. Colorado’s unemployment rate has hovered between 8.3 and 9.3 percent sometimes above and sometimes below the national average. Of course, if we spend millions of dollars on any one sector of the economy, some jobs will be created, but at a cost that diverts capital resources away from other possibly more productive sectors.
According to a 2009 study from Stanford University Energy Modeling Forum, “analysis…concludes that the advantages of increased jobs from renewable energy are vastly over-stated at costs prevailing today. It will require dramatic break-through in costs if renewable energy is to become a job generator.”
The study concludes with this resounding rebuke of “green job” creation policies: