As a result of Colorado's booming oil production, energy companies are paying more in severance taxes – money they pay the state for taking minerals out of the ground. Half of it is supposed to go to back to local communities, both directly and through grants. But thanks to market forces – and political conditions in Denver – it's not always a stable source of funding.
The debate over continuing the Office of Consumer Counsel won't be decided until the final day of the state's annual legislative session. The Office represents taxpayers when utility and telecom companies go to the state to ask for rate hikes. Without Senate Bill 271 [.pdf], the Office of Consumer Counsel would sunset and go away altogether.
Determining the scope of the office's role though has been contentious.
Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:59 am
The executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Tisha Schuller, recently announced that she's leaving the state's largest trade organization for the energy industry.
In a statement released by COGA, Schuller said it was a "wild ride" and that she was honored to have represented the state's oil industry. While remaining in her position until the end of May, Schuller sat down to talk about the future of the industry and why she decided to leave her position.
Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 12:42 pm
Oil companies in North Dakota are looking for the fastest and cheapest way to get their product to refineries, and they've set their sights on moving more of their product by rail to the Northwest.
There are six new oil terminals proposed for Washington state. Half of them could be built in the small communities around Grays Harbor, a bay on the Pacific coast about 50 miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River.
Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 6:38 pm
Governor John Hickenlooper received a warm reception from lawmakers in both parties during his annual State of the State Address. The Governor talked about policies he wants the legislature to adopt, announced a few new initiatives and urged lawmakers to face facts about the challenges facing Colorado.
During his roughly 45-minute speech Hickenlooper highlighted many of his budget proposals, such as giving more money to higher education and K-12 schools. He also pledged to look at ways to creatively fund roads and bridges, and threw his support behind a felony DUI law. Colorado is one of four states without one.
About 100 people attended a forum on the North Fork Valley's economy and what can be done to improve it.
Thirteen people ranging from the president of a coal mine to the head of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce spoke at the forum held at the Hive Paonia.
"We have our farms," says Alexis Halbert, president of the chamber. "We have our hunting resources. We have are restaurants, wineries, [and] people who are creating things out of the natural assets of the valley."
Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 5:36 pm
Update at 7:35 p.m. ET: The Senate voted against completing the Keystone pipeline.
The remaining portion of the Keystone pipeline project, if completed, will be fewer than 1,200 miles long — just a fraction of the existing 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines running beneath our feet in the United States.
Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 1:22 pm
It's lunchtime in Douglas, Wyo., a town smack in the middle of the state's booming oil patch, and the line of cars at the McDonald's drive-through wraps around the building. A hiring poster hangs in the window, and the parking lot is full.
Troy Hilbish, a tool hand for the oil field servicing company Schlumberger, says while he didn't know oil prices have been falling, he does know what falling prices mean.
"If the oil prices go up, we drill more," Hilbish says. "If they go down, we don't drill as much."
Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 11:46 am
The solar power business is growing quickly in the U.S. More than 500,000 homeowners and businesses installed solar panels in just the first half of this year, according to a Solar Energy Industries Association report.
When people get electricity from the sun, they don't buy it from their local power company. But that utility still must have the generators and power lines to provide electricity when the sun is not shining. That's creating conflicts across the country.
Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:50 pm
The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly in the United States. And as the panels become more affordable, they're popping up on rooftops around the country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to find better ways to back up its power system against blackouts. And while it may seem counterintuitive, more solar power does not mean fewer blackouts — at least not yet.
The tiny town of Del Norte, in southwestern Colorado, is a perfect example. Despite being covered in solar panels, Del Norte is still at risk of losing power if its main power line goes down.
Residents from Montrose County’s West End recently gathered for a screening of “Uranium Drive-In,” a documentary that tells the story of the ill-fated Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill, and a tight-knit community desperate for jobs and some hint of a brighter economy.
A complex series of agreements govern the distribution of water throughout the state. Along the Colorado River, farms, cities & towns, and the recreation industry are all big players. But everyone takes a backseat to a tiny hydroelectric plant that’s over one hundred years old. It’s the Shoshone Generating Station, and it plays a critical role on the Upper Colorado.