Hickenlooper’s appointment raises hackles

Patton Enlarge photo

Patton

Based on the record of La Plata Electric Association, the environmental community is disappointed in the appointment of LPEA Trustee Pam Patton to the Pubic Utilities Commission by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“If the governor’s reason for appointing Pam Patton to the PUC was to gain a progressive voice for rural electric associations on the Public Utilities Commission, he has come up short,” said Harry Riegle of Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado. “Ms. Patton has not supported renewable-energy proposals during her tenure on the board of the La Plata Electric Association, nor has she been an advocate for progressive policies. In fact, Pam was part of the LPEA board which opposed Amendment 37, which was overwhelmingly approved by Colorado voters in 2004.”

Amendment 37, approved by the voters in 2004, set renewable-energy standards for utilities.

Patton’s appointment to PUC also was criticized by Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition. Jones said she now has “doubts on whether (Hickenlooper) will continue to drive Colorado toward a clean-energy future.”

Eric Brown, a spokesman for the governor, believes attitudes toward Patton will change.

“We are confident the conservation community will be as impressed with Pam as we are when they meet and talk to her,” Brown said.

Patton, a resident of Bayfield, has served on the LPEA board since 2000 and is a past president and current secretary.

LPEA distributes electrical power in La Plata and Archuleta counties.

Patton criticized Riegle at a regular LPEA board meeting in May, accusing him of deliberately trying to make LPEA look like it was unwilling to release documents during a board election campaign in which two incumbents lost to green candidates.

Patton officially will begin her four-year term on the PUC on Thursday.

She will be sworn in June 25.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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