One of the tricky things these days is avoiding confirmation bias - where you read something and just agree with it because you want to! In today's Longmont Times-Call and yesterdays Longmont Leader is a letter from Matthew Popkin telling us that our city council is misleading voters regarding the electric rate increase by stating that its due to our zero carbon goals.
A series of misleading comments by Longmont officials risks misinforming residents.
Mr Popkin works at Rocky Mountain Institute advising local governments on market based clean energy strategies. I don't want to believe him, because I am reasonably certain that zero carbon energy is going to take more money. He is saying that we need the funds to continue as is anyway.
He had me until he mentioned replacing power plants.
So why do our rates need to increase? First, PRPA does still have increasing labor and fuel costs for existing operations as well as less efficient, aging power plants to replace. The current plans include both clean energy and natural gas power plants.
Yes power plants will need replacing eventually, but mostly there is talk of shutting down the Rawhide plant that uses clean coal. The gas plants have just recently been paid for fully yet Longmont wants to remove gas from the mix as well.
I will need to dig further, but at this stage I am trusting the council to be honest about a need for the increase in part (and yes, they have "in part") due to our clean energy goals.
But a hearty thank you Mr. Popkin for a well written letter that will lead us all to dig deeper!
UPDATE: Just some clarifying thoughts - the council has an agenda, Mr Popkin has an agenda and I have a bias. I will be visiting Platte River Power Authority on October 26 and will ask more questions then. Just be aware of any confirmation bias in any news story and be sure to look at things from points of view that may not be your own.