Energy standard renewed, doubled

Environment Colorado

DENVER, CO: Legislation to double Colorado’s renewable energy standard – the cornerstone to this year’s clean energy agenda – was introduced today by Representatives Jack Pommer (D – Boulder) and Rob Witwer (R- Genesee) and Senators Gail Schwartz (D – Snowmass Village) and Ken Kester (R – Las Animas).

The bill, HB07-1281, increases the renewable energy standard to 20% by the year 2020 and also includes several key provisions designed to encourage local communities to develop clean energy development projects, including projects initiated by municipal utilities and electric cooperatives themselves. The bill is supported by renewable energy advocates, conservationists, farmers, and utility companies.

The bill also sets the first renewable energy standard for all rural electric cooperatives. Under this legislation, all electric cooperatives would be required to get 10% of their electricity from renewables by 2020.

“Today, the legislature introduced a bill that will become a cornerstone for Colorado’s New Energy Economy,” said Will Coyne, Program Director of Environment Colorado. “Doubling our use of renewable energy to 20% by 2020 will protect our air, cut global warming pollution, and increase our energy security.”

Colorado’s current investment in wind power has been an enormous success. Xcel Energy is expected to meet Amendment 37’s 10% goal by the end of 2007, eight years ahead of schedule. The bill offers incentives for Colorado-based renewable energy, local community clean energy projects, and projects initiated by local utilities by offering increased credits toward meeting the renewable energy standard for those projects.

“We have only just begun to tap the enormous wind energy potential from Colorado’s Eastern Plains,” said Leland Swenson, Executive Director for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “This energy bill will create enormous economic benefits for rural Colorado.

Proponents of the legislation have cited the economic benefits for consumers, rural communities, and Colorado jobs. Interwest Energy Alliance projects over $250 million fuel and emission cost savings by 2020 thanks to Colorado’s current wind energy investment.

Support for the measure includes Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electricity provider. “We are committed to renewable energy, and to passing the environmental and economic benefits on to Colorado’s consumers,” said Pat Vincent, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.

Starting in 2001, Environment Colorado identified clean energy as a priority issue. After an unsuccessful three-year lobbying effort at the state capitol to pass a renewable energy standard, they took the issue to the ballot and found their first major success when Colorado became the first state where voters passed a renewable energy standard, Amendment 37. Then in 2006, Environment Colorado launched their New Energy Future campaign, gaining support from over 50 soon-to-be state legislators to double Colorado’s renewable energy standard to 20%.

“Support for clean energy has reached a tipping point this year,” said Coyne. “Coloradan’s realize that renewable energy won’t just help protect our environment but will be a driver for Colorado’s economic future.”