Ex-Colorado Gov. Ritter on Energy Secretary Shortlist, Despite Record

by William Yeatman on February 6, 2013

in Features

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Over at the Daily Caller News Foundation, reporter Greg Campbell takes a long look at ex-Colorado Governor’s qualifications to become the next Energy Secretary, a cabinet position for which he is rumored to be in the running. The President’s due diligence team should take note. Campbell writes:

One of Ritter’s main legacies as governor is a package of legislation called “the new energy economy” that was meant to kickstart renewable energy initiatives.

But his administration has come under scathing criticism recently for its handling of new energy projects. A state audit of the Colorado Energy Office — which began focusing on renewable energy initiatives during Ritter’s tenure — showed that it could not account for how it spent $252 million in state and federal money since 2007.

The agency could not say how much its programs cost or how much money was spent on them. The audit concluded that because of poor accounting, the energy office could not show that any of its programs were cost effective.

Much of the mismanaged money alluded to above came from the stimulus. In this respect, an Energy Secretary Ritter would provide a seamless transition from outgoing Secretary Steven Chu, whose tenure was characterized by pound-foolish stimulus spending.

According to Ritter, however, the state auditor has it all wrong:

He [Ritter] said that documents showing “in great detail” what was spent on various projects, as well as their outcomes, exist on the Internet and that there were “other avenues” for auditors to locate information.

Sooooo…….the missing exculpatory evidence is “on the internet”…..I’ve heard worse excuses, but not many.

In addition to the mismanagement of taxpayer money, Ritter also has a deep well of experience making energy more expensive. While in office, Ritter championed an agenda he labeled the “New Energy Economy.” In practice, it meant forcing Colorado ratepayers to use more green energy, and also fuel switching from coal to natural gas. Because green electricity costs more than natural gas electricity, which in turn costs twice as much as coal electricity in Colorado, Ritter’s New Energy Economy necessarily inflated electricity costs. As Campbell reports,

Indeed, a new report examining the financial impact of New Energy Economy legislation shows that Xcel Energy customers paid $484 million last year complying with the state’s tough new renewable energy standards and other clean energy measures, an amount that comprised 18 percent of Xcel’s total electricity sales in 2012.

The “new report” showing the costs of the New Energy Economy was published by none other than me. [I’ve embedded the full report below, after the conclusion.] Unfortunately for Coloradans, it gets worse. New Energy Economy electricity wasn’t merely expensive, it was also superfluous.

As I explain in the report, Xcel this year projects a surplus of dependable capacity (in excess of a 16% reliability reserve margin beyond peak demand) of 462 megawatts. The surplus is due primarily to the sagging economy. By comparison, in 2013, Xcel counts 457 megawatts of dependable capacity attributable to the New Energy Economy. The surplus is greater than the New Energy Economy contribution! This suggests that New Energy Economy policies required the purchase of expensive energy that Coloradans don’t need.

Shoddy accounting…picking losers…expensive energy–these are Governor Bill Ritter’s legacy on energy policy. Sounds like the perfect candidate to make electricity prices skyrocket.


William Yeatman – 2012 Cost Analysis of the New Energy Economy by Competitive Enterprise Institute


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