Colorado Billionaire Battles Utilities Over Power Line On His Ranch
In Colorado, hedge fund billionaire Louis Moore Bacon is fighting a new transmission line proposed by two utilities: shareholder-owned Xcel Energy, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a wholesale electricity supplier.
Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital Management LLC and owner of the 171,400-acre Trinchera ranch in south central Colorado, across which the power line will march, is apparently one of the great NIMBYists, standing head and shoulders alongside the likes of now-deceased former Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who did more than his part to block the Cape Wind farm because it blocked his view from the Kennedy Compound along Nantucket Sound.
Bacon calls his ranch a “state and national treasure,” but in fact it is his treasure, containing Colorado’s third highest mountain peak (Mount Blanca) and enough wilderness to house a herd of buffalo.
Xcel and Tri-State reportedly want the 140-mile transmission line because it enables delivery of renewables (like solar and wind) to far-flung portions of the state. Both utilities, and some of the ranchers and farmers in San Luis Valley, see the project as ensuring the reliability of the Valley’s electricity supply. County commissioners, in Alamosa, Saguache and Rio Grande counties, see an additional benefit: the project will nudge the area’s economic development.
Robert Kennedy Jr. – this one former President JFK’s nephew and an environmentalist in his own right – is apparently in Bacon’s camp when it comes to fighting the power line. Bacon himself is fighting it by demanding a more stringent environmental impact review, or EIR. He is supported by “Solar Working Group,” which wants lawmakers to explore alternative power line routes, and Bacon’s own $100,000 investment (to Denver PR firm, GBSM) is likely to insure that happens.
Still, the question remains, can Bacon win? Or should he? Most don’t, against powerhouse utilities like Xcel. But then again, Xcel has never gone up against someone as rich or clever as Bacon. And if the line really will support clean, renewable solar energy delivery from the Valley (reportedly the best place in Colorado for solar), why shouldn’t it run where it’s most needed?
Let us know what you think.
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