Renewable energy standards in CO: Lawsuit claims bias against nonrenewable electricity

Are there still people out there who oppose green energy initiatives? Hell yes there are. The American Tradition Institute, a think tank that espouses "free-market principles of stewardship" pertaining to environmental issues, has filed a complaint against the State of Colorado, arguing that its renewable energy standards discriminate against nonrenewable sources of electricity.

The gist of ATI's complaint? In a statement, Denver-based attorney Kevin Holsinger maintains that Colorado's renewable energy standard "establishes a clear preference for renewable electricity" from within the state and "doesn't accomplish the purposes for which it was established: to create jobs and promote clean energy. Rather, the variable nature of wind, in particular, results in increased demands on fossil fuels ultimately leading to more pollution."

This last assertion is echoed in a declaration by primary plaintiff Rod Lueck, who lives in Morrison and runs Techmate LLC, which provides back office systems to the financial services industry.

In the document, Lueck stresses that he has "a deep personal commitment to clean energy and high environmental quality," as exemplified by his decision to install photo-voltaic solar panels at this business. However, he believes Colorado's renewable energy standards increase his "dependence on unreliable sources of power," as well as increasing "the risk of brownouts and blackouts" and adding to air pollution, which threatens his health and that of his employees and family members.

Look below to read an ATI release, the original complaint and Lueck's declaration.

American Tradition Institute v. State of Colorado (Constitutionality of Renewable Energy Standards)

The Case

On April 4, 2011, American Tradition Institute, American Tradition Partnership and plaintiff Rod Lueck sued the State of Colorado and several officials over the constitutionality of the state's Renewable Energy Standard mandate. The RES requires the state's major utilities (mainly Xcel Energy) to obtain 30 percent of their power generation from "renewable" sources by the year 2020.

ATI claims that the Colorado RES discriminates on its face against legal, safer, less costly, less polluting and more reliable in-state and out-of-state generators of electricity sold in interstate commerce. This discrimination is forbidden by the Commerce Clause, which reserves the regulation of interstate commerce to the federal government.

Specifically ATI's complaint argues that because the state mandate provides economic benefits to Colorado's renewable electricity generators that are not available to out-of-state power generators, and because the state imposes burdens on interstate electricity generators that are not balanced by the benefits to Colorado and its citizens, that the RPS violates the Commerce Clause. The complaint also states that the law promotes renewable sources and discriminates against lower cost, more reliable energy generation from out of state suppliers, which is unconstitutional.

The heart of the lawsuit addresses both the uneconomical and environmentally harmful nature of wind-generated energy. In addition to higher costs than traditional generating sources, wind energy creates more pollution because it requires coal or natural gas as backup generation when the wind either does not blow, or when it blows too hard and causes systems to shut off.

American Tradition Institute Versus State of Colorado
American Tradition Institute Versus State of Colorado: Declaration of Plaintiff Rod Lueck

More from our News archive: "Xcel clean energy plan: Poll shows wide support for dumping coal plants."

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