By Tom Kenworthy, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
In 2004, Colorado became the first state to pass a renewable energy standard (RES) by popular vote, a measure requiring large utilities to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Three years later, after it became clear the RES goal of 10 percent was going to be achieved nearly eight years ahead of schedule, the state legislature doubled down with a new 20 percent mandate by 2020.
Now it looks like Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, will be able to meet the 20 percent five years ahead of schedule. So Gov. Bill Ritter (D) and legislative leaders are uping the ante once again, making a 30 percent RES by 2020 a priority for the legislative session that begins today.
If approved that would be one of the most ambitious renewable standards in the nation, and well in excess of the federal standard included in the energy and climate bill passed by the U.S. House last June that calls for a combined renewable energy and energy efficiency standard of 20 percent. Only California has a higher standard, 33 percent by 2020, according to the Department of Energy.
In announcing that the higher RES would be near the top of his legislative agenda, Ritter said he was committed to “maintaining Colorado as a national leader” on energy.