Last We Checked 2% is Less Than 17%

Anna Zawisza : Wednesday June 19, 9:01AM

Cheap food.  Cheap energy. Cheap clothing.  Americans have a love affair with bargains.  As we’ve become more accustomed to cheap things, it’s harder to spend money on quality and sustainability.  A basic misconception is that we won’t be burdened by rising costs of something related to the cheap item.  Take food for example.  The cheap food we eat brings on a wealth of problems which in turn cost us more money (think medical care, insurance rates, weight loss expenditures, etc.) than if we just spent more upfront but avoided the related future costs.

This same story played out just a few weeks ago when opponents of Senate Bill 252, the Rural Renewable Energy Standard, touted the line that people just couldn’t pay the rate increase (capped at 2%) associated with 10% more renewables.  Which is quite interesting given the news that due to rising natural gas prices, Xcel Energy is raising rates by 17% for residential service and 19% for commercial.  See Cathy Proctor’s article in the Denver Business Journal.

We know that fossil fuel prices fluctuate, but we also know that they are expected to keep rising.  Renewables on the other hand, while having upfront and maintenance costs, hit the earth for free and once in place, cost us much less.  There are no extraction costs.  There’s no possibility of a spill or other environmental disaster that carries large cleanup expenditures, fines and lawsuits.

So does 2% warrant as a hedge against 17% to 19%?  I think most economists would say “Heck Yeah”.  Granted, Tri-State and the CREAs haven’t announced rising rates as Xcel did and SB-252 affects their territories.  However, if natural gas prices are rising across the nation then it’s likely a matter of time before we see rate increases in rural Colorado.

Let’s wake up and break up with “cheap”.  Let’s understand the need for quality and sustainability in everything from our food, to our houses to our energy sources.  And to everyone who says that renewables will cost us more, just show them 2% < 17%.

Author Bio:

Anna manages programs at the Alliance and also serves as the Deputy Director. She is responsible for advancing sustainability by increasing awareness, creating tools that accelerate progress and activating Colorado’s sustainability network. She is committed to working with people of all backgrounds and from all sectors of society in order to create a greater collective impact on sustainability. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Anna spent 12 years in the student loan industry focused on sales and marketing. She earned her B.S. in Management Science at SUNY Geneseo in 1994 and completed her M.B.A at Webster University in 2003. Anna’s passion for sustainability grew out of her love of the outdoors – she skis, hikes, camps and spends as much time as possible in the woods.

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