Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Throw the Bums Out

"The Colorado Mining Association late Tuesday filed a motion with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission seeking to have two of its three commissioners recuse themselves from any further involvement with Xcel Energy Inc.'s $1.3 billion plan to switch 903 megawatts of coal-based power to natural gas," reports The Denver Business Journal. "The CMA motion accuses the pair of making a "behind-closed-doors deal" with Xcel, Colorado's largest power utility."

But mere recusal seems insufficient, in my opinion. The two should be asked by the governor to resign. And if they decline to resign, they should be purged. The only problem with that, practically- and politically-speaking, is that the governor who should do the purging is part of the plot, involving legislators, regulators and industry, to shift the burden of an unnecessary coal-to-gas power plant conversion onto ratepayers. The PUC is supposed to look out for the public interest. But under the influence of Chairman Ron Binz -- a green-leaning social engineer who helped sell the state on renewable energy production quotas -- the public interest in this case came second or third or fourth to a larger agenda called the "new energy economy."

Purging the tainted PUC members would force Bill Ritter to acknowledge that one of his proudest achievements as governor, the passage of HB-1365, was little more than a backroom corporate welfare deal cleverly wrapped-up as a "clean jobs" bill. Thus, we'll probably have to wait for the next governor to straighten this mess out (if he's so inclined) and clean house at the PUC.

For more on this issue, please read the Business Journal story.

P.S. PUC Chairman Ron Binz offers a lame defense of his actions in a letter in today's Denver Post, which isn't convincing enough that I would change any of what I wrote above.

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