Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Taylor Grills Baker, But Ritter PUC Pick Approved by Committee

Environment Colorado executive director Matt Baker, nominated by Gov. Bill Ritter for a seat on the Public Utilities Commission, faced skeptical questioning from Republicans on the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee Monday.

Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, accused Baker of being "anti-coal."

Environment Colorado has urged the state to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants and to shut down oldest such facilities in Colorado.

Baker said he is pragmatic about coal and does not think it is practical to expect that state authorities could force the closure of the Hayden and Craig coal-fired plants in the "foreseeable future."

Taylor and Sen. Tom Wiens, R-Castle Rock, were the only opponents of Baker's confirmation on the seven-member committee. Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, voted with the Democrats to recommend approval of the nomination by the full Senate.

Baker was director of the campaign in support of Amendment 37, which imposed renewable energy standards on the state's public utilities and rural electric cooperatives that did not obtain a membership vote exempting them.