NCP4CE Open Letter to Platte River Power Authority Board on Public Input Process

Posted on September 30, 2020

Dear Board Chair Troxell, Vice Chair Hornbacher and Directors Bagley, Bergsten, Bernosky, Cunniff, Koenig and Marsh:

Northern Colorado Partners for Clean Energy (NCP4CE) has serious concerns about how the public comment session at the September 24th board meeting was handled. We hope that public comment can be improved at future meetings.

First, there was insufficient time allotted for public comment, which was limited to thirty minutes. Second, we were displeased about the manner in which community members who signed up to speak were cut off. While we understand the time pressures involved in conducting a business meeting, we hope that more time will be allowed for public comment in the future, and that people will not be abruptly cut off. Collectively, the five of us have provided many hours of testimony to local and state government bodies. The usual practice during public comment sessions is to give a warning when the allotted time is up or nearly up, and then allow a few seconds for speakers to finish their sentence. By cutting speakers off with no warning, PRPA sent a very clear signal that it does not value hearing what those speakers had to say.

That message was reinforced by comments from two board members during the IRP work session. One said that the 150 to 200 people PRPA has heard from so far are just “unhappy,” suggesting that there is a silent majority of happy people out there who think everything is fine with PRPA’s IRP Report. Another board member, responding to a call for additional public comment at the next meeting, said that the board would “just hear the same thing,” suggesting that what the board has been hearing to date hasn’t been worthwhile. The message being sent to the community appears to be that the PRPA is not interested in further public engagement regarding the IRP.

Finally, a PRPA staff member spoke glowingly of the so-called “scientific survey” that suggested that businesses favor Portfolio 2 over Portfolio 3. Our understanding is that the “scientific survey” did not even mention the fact that Portfolio 2 includes a new natural gas-fired plant, and simply asked the question appended at the end of this letter. Nothing was said during the board work session about the Community Focus Groups led last spring by the Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation, which showed broad support for Portfolio 3, while simultaneously showing broad opposition to building a new natural gas plant. During those sessions, people had a chance to get an in-depth perspective and understanding of each portfolio.

When PRPA staff has made it clear that a new natural gas plant is part of their recommended IRP portfolio, members of the general public have overwhelmingly and clearly stated that they do not want such a plant. NCP4CE has been offering constructive criticism of the PRPA’s IRP process since last March. We believe that is high time for PRPA to start listening to what both we and the vast majority of your other ratepayers and owners are saying.

Sincerely,

NORTHERN COLORADO PARTNERS FOR CLEAN ENERGY

Jane Clevenger, Renewables Now Loveland

Kevin Cross, Fort Collin Sustainability Group

Abby Driscoll, Sustainable Resilient Longmont

Nick Francis, Fort Collins Partners in Climate Action

Tom Street, Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition

Note: A recipient of the "scientific survey" informed us that the following was the only question related to energy use preferences:

How much more would your business pay on your utility bill to receive noncarbon energy?

[ ] About 2.2% more each year to receive 60% noncarbon energy by 2030 with 99.99% reliability

[ ] Approximately 2.6% more each year to receive 90% noncarbon energy by 2030 with 99.99% reliability

[ ] Approximately 8.7% more each year to receive 100% noncarbon energy by 2030 although Platte River cannot maintain system reliability

[ ] About 2.8% more each year to promote more efficiency, rooftop solar, EVs, etc. You would receive 65% noncarbon energy by 2030 and 90% noncarbon energy by 2035 with 99.99% reliability