Taxi Licensing, Energy Credits,
Nov. 16, 2007
By Jerry Kopel
What consumers would like to know: (1) That they
can get a taxicab without too much hassle and for reasonable cost. (2)
That if they help reduce Global Warming, they will be rewarded. (3) How
the Office of Consumer Counsel can provide greater participation on
matters than affect consumer health and costs.
Those are three of the 16 recommendations from the Dept. of Regulatory
Agencies (DORA) 2007 Sunset Report on the Public Utilities Commission
Most arguments are between "no regulation of taxicab services" and
"putting the burden of proof for a new taxi company on the persons
proposing such a company". DORA's research team suggests a middle
ground: Put the burden of proof on those existing companies that claim
there is no need for a new company.
DORA recognizes that taxi deregulation in other states "leads to
oversupply, price gouging and poor customer service....In an open entry
system, companies have the incentive to put as many cabs on the street
as there are drivers willing to pay lease fees and thus fail to act as a
gateway control to entry."
Hopefully, lobbyists for opponents won't mask the issue by harping about
"phantom deregulation." DORA sets out the tremendous hurdles a proponent
must overcome to operate as a common carrier. "The (present) regulatory
process in Colorado regarding market entry is one that serves to protect
business from competition...not Colorado consumers."
DORA wants the burden of proof reversed so existing carriers "are
required to prove that granting the applicant's certificate of authority
would result in harm to consumers". I assume such harm would result from
How a reversal of burden of proof is drafted should be the issue. DORA
points out "The PUC will maintain regulatory oversight over vehicle
safety and insurance compliance."
The PUC many need to set up an auditing process and a limited time on an
original charter to satisfy concerns that qualifications are being met
and consumers are being benefited, thus reducing present taxi company
Closing a loophole. In 2004, a citizen initiative entitled Amendment 37
passed 1,066,023 to 922,577. It required investor-owned utilities to
generate or purchase a portion of their electric power from renewable
energy sources beginning in 2007.
In 2007, the legislature passed HB 1281 which "expanded renewable energy
targets to cooperative electricity associations and some municipal
electric utilities, but exempt from a mandate of incorporating
customer-sited generation and net-metering".
Customer-sited generation, for example, would include use of solar
panels to produce relatively small scale electricity at the customer's
location. Net metering occurs when customer-sited generation produces
mores electricity than that customer can use. It returns unused
electricity to the power grid, the customer's meter goes backwards and
the customer receives credit for the reduced grid use.
According to DORA, in 2005 "29 municipal electric utilities and 26
cooperative electric associations controlled 41 percent of Colorado's
electricity market." Under HB 1281, they were given a choice. "They need
not offer customer-sited generation incentives or net metering." Hence,
DORA states "customer-sited generation serves to help the utility
satisfy renewable energy portfolio requirements" without adopting net
"Apparently, at least 18 states have implemented statewide net metering"
claims DORA as it presents this editorial: "Amendment 37 was passed by
the people of Colorado, not just the customers of Colorado's larger
investor-owned utilities. All Colorado should be able to actively
participate in the greening of the state's energy portfolio, and, at
present, they are not". Well, they can participate, but for some,
without a financial incentive.
DORA is interested in providing the PUC with additional expertise in
such areas as environmental and health costs, since these subjects could
result in higher utility rates and higher health care costs borne by all
"The PUC lacks institutional knowledge and expertise to address air and
water quality ... environmental effect and public health, and economic
and employment ratifications of utilizing new technologies..."
As one of many additional helping sources, DORA believes it would be
beneficial to allow the Office of Consumer Counsel, when they are
already authorized to participate under present law in utility rates,
charges and service quality issues, to intervene in those other named
That, according to DORA, should reduce the number of other parties who
presently seek to intervene because their interests are not adequately
represented by any existing party.
* * *
There are 87 pages in the DORA Sunset Report on the PUC. And after
reviewing Sunset Reports for the past 30 years, I can honestly state
this is one of the best, comprehensive, detailed, and thorough reports I
But it is a hard read, and from my past legislative service, I know the
eyes of legislators glaze over after ten pages of anything. So hopefully
these reviews will ease that burden.
This column will attempt in the future to highlight other
recommendations than the three discussed above.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)