The Case for Publicly Owned Energy in Colorado

As Colorado emerges as a leader economically and in the energy sector, it is important to look at what we are doing here as a state to reduce our carbon footprint and establish a sustainable path forward as a community.  While we’ve had some local successes with the Boulder County Commissioners passing a 9-month moratorium on any new oil and gas permits, we’ve also had at the same time local regulators in Weld County, where nearly 90% of the state’s oil is produced, proudly take up the mantle of “local control” to establish their own oil and gas department to bolster local energy companies. Make no mistake, pollution does not stay within county lines and this comes at a cost to our entire state.

Scientists here at CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research have already found a “strong correlation between winds from Weld County and levels of petroleum hydrocarbons — such as methane, ethane and propane — in Boulder’s air.”

At best, Senate Bill 181 which established local control for oil and gas regulations, allows only progressive communities to reform their permit process while areas like Weld County are able to pave the way for oil companies to profit off of the destruction of our entire state’s environment.

We need to treat this crisis like the emergency that it is and call for systematic change where our environment’s health and sustainability comes before someone’s privilege to make a profit. 

That’s why Colorado needs publicly owned energy from not only from oil and gas, but to electric, solar, wind, coal, and every energy source that our society relies on because it would be incredibly naive of us in this pivotal moment to allow those who have made billions of dollars off of our state’s resources to lead us out of the crisis they helped create.

Publicly owned energy means we can create a not for profit system where the best option for our community is pursued instead of being resigned to the selfish choices that makes a few incredibly wealthy executives even richer. It also allows us to guarantee that every worker, except for those at the top, gets to keep their job and enjoy the full benefits that come with being a state employee instead of a temporary contractor that is at the mercy of the boom and bust cycle that energy sector creates.

We have conservative states like Nebraska producing 100%of their electricity through publicly owned utilities and paying one of the cheapest rates in the country. This massive public network was first established by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 through the Tennessee Valley Authority act and has continued to produce positive returns to this day. By ensuring these resources are not taken for profit Colorado can provide good, high-paying and long-lasting jobs and reshape our economy to deliver cheaper and greener energy. 

We need to have state-wide control in order to make the necessary changes that scientists, not politicians, but experts in the field have told us we need to take in order to reduce our emissions in time. By implementing a publicly owned energy system in this state, we can redirect resources and refocus our economy on industries that have a future instead of ones that are destroying the planet and struggling to hold on as technology makes them obsolete and more expensive than the alternatives.

The Benefits of Publicly Owned Energy

Cheaper Prices

Publicly owned energy means we can set our own rates for public consumption and invest in cheaper, renewable energy that will put Colorado on a path for a sustainable future. Rather than allow billions of dollars to flow to a handful of investors, Coloradoans will know the comfort that they are truly getting the lowest price possible with none of our revenue being wasted on corporate bonuses.

Greener and Cleaner

In order to combat climate change and curb air pollution, it is essential that we move to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible. Publicly owned energy allows us to do that by controlling the transition and ensuring that we meet our goals

Everybody keeps their job

By having the state own and operate our energy and resources, we can guarantee everyone a good paying job and actually mean it with full state benefits from comprehensive healthcare coverage to retirement to professional development. We are going to need all be involved in the solution from building infrastructure to research and development to education for our community.

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