While Michael Bennet was busy bungling the pension fund investments for Denver Public Schools, environmental groups and green energy companies were spending their time on an investment with a greater Return on Investment (ROI): a large legislative majority for allied Democrats.

And now they’re cashing in, screwing over rural Colorado electric rate payers, says a hard hitting new editorial from The Pueblo Chieftain:

A late bill introduced into the Colorado Senate could send electric power rates skyrocketing for rural residents and businesses.

Senate Bill 252 would create a renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2020 for Tri-State Generation and Transmission customers, which include San Isabel, San Luis Valley and Southeast Colorado Power electric co-ops. Right now distribution cooperatives have a 10 percent standard by 2020 that was put in place in 1997, with the support of co-ops.

But now this more than doubling of renewable energy capacity would force Tri-State to comply with a Colorado-only standard, which could be unachievable. This would cost Tri-State billions of dollars to reach.

…Of course, the end users would have to foot the bill. This is a direct assault on rural Colorado.

This legislation had no input from rural constituencies. It was written behind closed doors with the environmental special interests.

The editorial goes on to call out Sen. Angela Giron and Rep. Ed Vigil, both Democrat sponsors of the legislation, and asks them to pull their support. Giron and The Chieftain have been brawling ever since she threw her support behind gun control legislation widely loathed by The Chieftain and its readers. This bill will only add (fossil) fuel to the fire.

The bill itself is “Abound” to cause heartburn among rural families struggling to pay their bills.

When The Chieftain says end users would foot the bill, they aren’t talking pennies. They’re talking serious cash.

As KDVR and The Denver Post reported in 2011, when you force utilities to add expensive energy, they don’t make money appear out of thin air — they pass on the cost to the consumer:

Electricity bills for Xcel Energy customers in Colorado have risen about 21 percent in six years and are expected to rise another 20 percent over the next six as the utility adds renewable energy, builds transmission lines and passes fuel costs through to consumers.

The average monthly residential bill for Xcel customers in Colorado is now above $68.

The Denver Post reported Sunday the increase has been twice the inflation rate.

With the little power usually afforded the legislature, it can sometimes be hard to quantify the damage done to rank and file voters by various legislation. Bills like this, however, lead to costs easily expressible in dollars and cents.

And it doesn’t take much political sense to realize the dollars and cents add up to a lot.