AARP Colorado is deeply concerned about the proposal by Xcel, Black Hills and others to join the Little Rock-based Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which would turn over most regulatory authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The utility companies, known as the Mountain West Group, include Xcel (Public Service Company of Colorado), Black Hills, the Western Area Power Administration and Colorado Springs Utilities. The push to join the Arkansas SPP seems to be rushed and counterintuitive because the SPP is considered an eastern connection and has no physical tie to Colorado, said AARP Colorado advocacy director Kelli Fritts.
“Joining the Arkansas pool would transfer decision-making and rate-recovery authority from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to the federal government under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is governed by the U.S. Department of Energy,” she said.
“The DOE has opened a case to order the FERC to direct the SPP to make huge new payments to certain older nuclear and coal-fired power plants that could increase rates dramatically,” Fritts said. “The cost is estimated to be over $4 billion a year.
“While the proposal currently does not apply to plants in Colorado, the loss of local and state control over energy policy could be at odds with such federal interference, which is unprecedented,” she said.
AARP Colorado, which advocates keeping utilities rates affordable for older Coloradans and their families, including its nearly 700,000 members, is alarmed that consumers might not benefit from the plan, which was developed in private negotiations, and that increases rates and could force Coloradans to pay for power upgrades in other states.
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