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Why did a legislative vote on proposal for renamed Office of Consumer Advocates split on party lines? 

A bill to renew the Office of Consumer Counsel but with a new name, the Office of Consumer Advocate, was approved by the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, its first step through the Legislature.

All the votes save one on an amendment were on a 5-3 party-line basis, Democrats in support and Republicans voting to kill it.

Perhaps Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, indicated what lies ahead when he asked about whether the bill would result in new employees.

The legislation sponsored by Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Democrat from Boulder, would lift the current cap of 7 employees in the agency in the Department of Local Employees. “It seems like we are adding new employees every time we turn around,” said Coram.

It was later clarified that the bill does not specifically add more employees but that new employees could be added in response to increasing responsibilities as a result of Colorado’s energy transition. Those additions would have to be approved by an appropriations committee.

This is from Big Pivots, an e-magazine tracking the energy and water transitions in Colorado and beyond. Subscribe at

Later, Coram questioned Steve Andrews, of Pueblo’s Energy Future, with the suggestion that the shift from coal-based generation had caused rates of Black Hills Energy to rise.

Andrews responded with details that altogether would suggest that no, they didn’t. Andrews did say that Black Hills has done what you would expect from an agency responsible for representing consumers. It also reached out to Pueblo’s Energy Future in a matter of rate returns as well as being helpful in providing technical details requested by Andrews’ group.

Allen Best
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