Friday, December 17, 2010

PUC puts last nail into coffin of Denver-area coal-fired power plants

By 2017 there will be no more coal-fired power plants in or near Denver.

The Public Utilities Commission entered an order Wednesday that requires Xcel Energy to close five coal-powered plants, open a natural gas-fired plant in Denver, and convert two other coal-based facilities to natural gas.

The agency also approved a request from Black Hills Energy to close two coal-based power plants near Canon City.

The order is based on the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, the landmark legislation enacted last year that aims to dramatically lower the state's nitrogen oxide emissions to the atmosphere.

Excel's actions will raise electric bills by an average of 2.5 percent by 2020.

Black Hills Energy customers could see an increase of five percent in their electricity rates.

The Washington Post has a story on the PUC's action.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Colorado wildlife agency considering whether to re-introduce wolverines

The Colorado Department of Wildlife is looking into whether to propose a plan to re-introduce wolverines into the state.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported Tuesday that agency representatives have been conducting discussions with interests that would be impacted if the carnivorous mammal is re-introduced on public lands in the mountains.

The article said that the state's Wildlife Commission isn't likely to take up the issue soon enough to allow re-introduction before 2012.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that the wolverine is eligible for listing as an endangered or threatened species under federal law, but that such protection is precluded by other agency priorities.

A wolverine was discovered in Colorado last year. It was the first known individual of the species within the state's borders since 1919.

A stocky animal that can weigh from about 20 to about 70 pounds, the wolverine is a member of the weasel family and has a reputation for being both strong for its size and a resilient defender of its food.

Image courtesy Wikimedia.

Ritter tells AP his term as guv changed Colorado for the better

Gov. Bill Ritter says his term as governor brought needed and positive change to Colorado.

Ritter told an AP reporter that the strengthening of the state's renewable energy industry and the stabilizing of funding for transportation will be his most important and enduring legacies.

According to an article in the Durango Herald, Ritter also acknowledged that his efforts to encourage more cooperation between the representatives of the state's business interests and its labor movement had not worked out.

Ritter has not publicly announced his post-gubernatorial plans.

Pace assigns minority Dems to committees

House minority leader-to-be Sal Pace announced Tuesday the assignment of his party's members to the chamber's committees.

The designations follow:

Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources

Rep. Randy Fischer, Fort Collins (ranking member)
Rep. Wes McKinley, Baca County
Rep. Su Ryden, Aurora
Rep. Ed Vigil, Alamosa
Rep.-elect Matt Jones, Louisville
Rep.-elect Roger Wilson, Glenwood Springs


Rep. Mark Ferrandino, Denver (ranking member)
Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Gunbarrel
Rep. Andy Kerr, Lakewood
Rep. Jim Riesberg, Greeley
Rep. Judy Solano, Brighton
Rep.-elect Dan Pabon, Denver

Economic and Business Development

Rep. John Soper, Thornton (ranking member)
Rep. Joe Miklosi, Denver
Rep. Max Tyler, Golden
Rep.-elect Deb Gardner, Boulder
Rep.-elect Angela Williams, Denver
Rep.-elect Roger Wilson, Glenwood Springs


Rep. Judy Solano, Brighton (ranking member)
Rep. Andy Kerr, Lakewood
Rep. Cherylin Peniston, Westminster
Rep. Sue Schafer, Wheat Ridge
Rep. Nancy Todd, Aurora
Rep.-elect Millie Hamner, Frisco


Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Gunbarrel (ranking member)
Rep. Daniel Kagan, Englewood
Rep. John Kefalas, Fort Collins
Rep. Jeanne Labuda, Denver
Rep.-elect Crisanta Duran, Denver
Rep.-elect Dan Pabon, Denver

Health and Environment

Rep. Jim Riesberg, Greeley (ranking member)
Rep. John Kefalas, Fort Collins
Rep-elect Rhonda Fields, Aurora
Rep. Beth McCann, Denver
Rep. Cherylin Peniston, Westminster
Rep. Sue Schafer, Wheat Ridge


Rep. Claire Levy, Boulder (ranking member)
Rep. Daniel Kagan, Englewood
Rep. Su Ryden, Aurora
Rep.-elect Crisanta Duran, Denver
Rep.-elect Pete Lee, Colorado Springs

Local Government

Rep. Ed Casso, Commerce City (ranking member)
Rep. Beth McCann, Denver
Rep. John Soper, Thornton
Rep.-elect Rhonda Fields, Aurora
Rep.-elect Pete Lee, Colorado Springs

State, Veterans, and Military Affairs

Rep. Nancy Todd, Aurora (ranking member)
Rep. Lois Court, Denver
Rep. Claire Levy, Boulder
Rep. Joe Miklosi, Denver


Rep. Max Tyler, Golden (ranking member)
Rep. Randy Fischer, Fort Collins
Rep. Matt Jones, Louisville
Rep.-elect Deb Gardner, Boulder
Rep.-elect Millie Hamner, Frisco
Rep.-elect Angela Williams, Denver

Capitol Development

Rep. Ed Vigil, Alamosa


Rep. Joe Miklosi, Denver
Rep.-elect Deb Gardner, Boulder

Nine new Democratic members are joining the House, joining 23 veteran legislators in the caucus.

The Democrats will have 32 seats in the House when the 68th General Assembly opens Jan. 12. That is one fewer than the Republicans.

Democrats continue to control the state Senate, as they have since Jan. 2005.

Denver Health doc chosen to replace Sen. Romer

A physician will replace resigning Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver.

Dr. Irene Aguilar, a champion of a single-payer health care system who has pushed for adoption of a bill creating one in Colorado, was chosen by the Senate district 32 Democratic vacancy committee.

According to the Denver Post, Aguilar beat Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, by a wide margin among the party activists who voted.

Romer is leaving office Dec. 31 to seek election as Denver mayor.

Since he was re-elected Nov. 2 to a second four-year Senate term that begins next month, Aguilar can serve until January 2015 before facing the voters.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Denver attorney Lund to be Hickenlooper's chief counsel

Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper has named a prominent Denver attorney as his chief legal counsel.

Kenneth W. Lund, the managing partner of the law firm Holme Roberts and Owen LLP, got the job Monday.

Lund has practiced law at the firm since 1990. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Denver.

Under his leadership Holme Roberts and Owen was recognized by Colorado Biz magazine in 2009 for its financial strength and community involvement. Since his appointment as managing partner Holme Roberts and Owen has opened two overseas offices and outposts in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco.

Lund is a veteran participant in Front Range urban affairs, having served as a member of the board of directors of the Metro Denver Sports Commission, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the chamber's Leadership Foundation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Marquez takes supreme court seat

Colorado's 96th supreme court justice took her seat Friday after being sworn in by her father, a retired court of appeals judge.

Monica Marquez replaced Mary Mullarkey on the bench. Mullarkey retired on Nov. 30.

The new justice, 41, is a former deputy attorney general.

She becomes the second Latino justice on the current supreme court, the first Latina ever to sit on the court, Colorado's first openly gay justice, and the third openly gay state supreme court justice in the country.

Marquez's father, Jose D.L. Marquez, administered her oath of office. The elder Marquez also made history as Colorado's first Latino court of appeals judge.

He retired from the state bench in 2008 after 20 years of service.

Ferrandino warns of huge higher education cuts

A member of the Joint Budget Committee warned a Greeley audience Saturday that Colorado could be facing drastic cuts in higher education funding within the next few years.

A report in Saturday's Greeley Tribune says that Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, told people attending an open forum at Evans Community College that the requirements of federal stimulus funding, which have protected the colleges' budgets during the last two years, are ending.

Gov. Bill Ritter's FY 2011 budget proposal would set higher education funding at $555 million. If that amount, or less, is adopted by the General Assembly, Colorado would rank last among the 50 states in the amount of money budgeted for colleges and universities.

Unlike other areas of the state budget, such as Medicaid and K-12 education, there is no law that mandates a minimum level of funding for higher education.

Hamner to replace Scanlan in Summit County seat

The superintendent of the Summit school district will replace resigning Democratic Rep. Christine Scanlan in the state House of Representatives.

According to a report in Sunday's Summit Daily, Millie Hamner was chosen by a District 56 vacancy committee.

Hamner will be replaced in her job as the Frisco-based school district superintendent by her top assistant. She had previously announced that she would retire on July 1, 2011.

Hamner has been a West Slope educator since 1978. She spent the last ten years in Summit County and the prior 23 in Eagle County.

Scanlan is leaving the legislature to join Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper's staff.