Colorado isn’t waiting for Washington to move aggressively on clean energy, as CAP Senior Fellow Tom Kenworthy explains here.
On March 5, the state Senate approved a measure to increase Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) to 30% by 2020, and on March 8th, the House finalized the bill, sending it to Gov. Bill Ritter for his signature.
The legislation confirms Colorado’s leadership in nurturing the development of clean, renewable energy just six years after voters approved the state’s first RES – 10% by 2015. In 2006 the state legislature doubled the RES to 20% by 2020, and with enactment of the latest measure only California will have a set a more ambitious state requirement than Colorado, 33% by 2020.
As State Rep. Max Tyler wrote in Sunday’s Denver Post, “There’s new energy in town, and it’s powering a boom that will make Colorado a leader in recovering from this financial downturn. This clean renewable energy will grow Colorado’s economy and lead to a brighter future.”
The 30% renewables mandate, which covers large investor-owned utilities, also requires those utilities to get 3% of their power from distributed generation – rooftop solar and other small solar and wind sources owned by individuals, small businesses and communities. That requirement is expected to boost Colorado’s solar energy economy, which already includes 230 companies employing more than 2,500 people.
According to a new report by Vote Solar and Environment Colorado, a 3% distributed generation standard that is expanded to include all of the state’s utilities would mean 1,000 megawatts of distributed power generation and create 3,333 construction period jobs per year, save 6.8 billion gallons of water and avoid emissions of 30 million tons of CO2 – the equivalent of taking nearly 670,000 cars off the road.
The new, higher RES, wrote Tyler, “will continue to encourage the creation of our own energy businesses as well as drawing new energy companies and investment capital to Colorado. Good new jobs will be created for folks from engineers to construction workers. We will increase our energy independence, protect our environment, and cement Colorado as a leader in America’s clean energy revolution.”
– Tom Kenworthy