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The Alternative Voterís Guide

The Legislative Councilís ballot-analysis booklet has inspired so many fights, it should be called the black-and-blue book. Hereís our cure.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that 10 percent dependence on renewables would be the equivalent of pulling 600,000 cars off the road each year. (Where's that magic wand at 5 p.m. on I-70?) Amendment 37 would also create energy credits -- something free-market types have been clamoring for -- so that if, say, Xcel Energy generated only 8 percent of its output from renewables, it could buy the remaining 2 percent from a utility that exceeded the production requirements. And each of the utility companies would have the option to opt out of the 10 percent requirement by putting the question to a customer election -- but at least 25 percent of the customers would have to vote. (Only American Idol captures that kind of market share.) Finally, Amendment 37 would cap the amount an average residential electric bill could jump to 50 cents per month; investors, commercial users and small-business owners would pick up the rest of the costs.

And if any problems arose in implementation of the measure, the legislature could make a fix. Because despite its title, 37 is not actually a constitutional amendment.

Who's behind it?

Coloradans for Clean Energy.

War chest: $206,378, plus a $500,000 loan from Environment Colorado.

Big donors: Union of Concerned Scientists, Solar Energy Industries Association, Colorado Environmental Coalition.

Noteworthy supporters:Denver City Council, Denver Public Schools.

Who wants it dead?

Citizens for Sensible Energy Choices.

War chest: $1,156,000.

Big donors: Xcel (almost half, at $520,000), Rural Electric Association and Tri-State Generation.

Noteworthy opponents: Club 20, Downtown Denver Partnership, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Fun facts:

• New York State requires that 25 percent of its energy come from renewables; Colorado currently produces 2 percent of its energy from alternative sources.

• Despite now arguing that renewable energy will raise costs, Xcel has testified that its new wind-power plant outside of Lamar will save customers $5 million annually.

• Last spring, students on the Auraria campus voted to increase their student fees by $1 in order to power the campus entirely with solar and wind energy. They'll raise approximately $83,600 a year to pay for the 1,451.5 megawatts of renewable energy needed.

Best campaign snafu:

Xcel sent a notice of opposition to Amendment 37 to its 1.3 million customers in their bills. Direct marketing in action!

Guide to decide:

• If you drive or aspire to drive a Toyota Prius or a Mini Cooper, vote yes.

• If you hate the wind in your hair and the sun in your eyes, vote no.

• If you're a rural rancher, vote yes. (Surprisingly, the rural West and urban left are teaming up on this one.)

• If you drive a Hummer, vote yes. You've got to do something to atone for your gas-guzzling, environment-killing ways.

• If the terms B-100 and B-20 mean anything to you, vote yes.

• If you think the terms B-100 and B-20 refer to bombers, vote no.

• If you hate Xcel, vote yes. Just to piss them off.

If we were betting types:

WW: 2-1 in favor, unless Xcel Energy chairman Wayne Brunetti is responsible for registering and paying off those 6,000 felons.

TR: 2-1 in favor.

JG: 2-1 against. "Christ, the people in this city can't even approve a simple cell-phone tower without throwing a temper tantrum. How are they going to agree on clean energy?"

Referendum A: State Personnel SystemReferendum A would make the state personnel system -- which oversees the hiring, firing and raises of everyone from the obnoxious twit at the DMV to the super-helpful customer-service rep serving the line next to you at the DMV -- less arcane. Would it make it more fair? Depends on how you feel about an incoming governor being given the power to toss an additional 140 high-level bureaucrats out on their asses.

Guide to decide:

If you like working for Governor Bill Owens (and who doesn't?), vote yes.

If you hate working for Governor Bill Owens (and who doesn't?), vote no.

Referendum B: Obsolete Constitutional ProvisionsVote yes. Too bad the rest of Colorado can't be cleaned up as easily.

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