Governor signs two bills to spur ‘New Energy Economy’

Environment Colorado

DENVER—Today, Gov. Bill Ritter signed two pieces of clean energy legislation – House Bill 1281 and Senate Bill 100 – to help create a “New Energy Economy” for Colorado. Environment Colorado joined the Governor at the signing ceremony outside the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Wind Test Center in Boulder.

“As Coloradans we can all learn an important lesson from these new laws – that the health of our environment and our economy are not mutually exclusive,” said Will Coyne, Program Director for Environment Colorado. “Today is an exciting day for Colorado – for our environment, for our economy, for our workers, for our future.”

Hailed as Gov. Ritter’s hallmark legislation, 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 Governor also signed a companion bill at the ceremony, Senate Bill 100, which maps renewable energy resources in Colorado and helps put “wind on the wires” by allowing utilities to build new transmission lines to develop those resources using current cost recovery – ensuring immediate funding for new projects and saving rate-payers money over the long run.

“Our economy and our environment are inexorably linked – probably more so in Colorado than many other places. Today we have achieved victory for both,” said Coyne.

“Today, Gov. Ritter signs legislation that will secure the market for renewable energy in Colorado – adding $1.9 billion to our economy – and at the same time cut soot, smog, and global warming pollution by 11%,” continued Coyne.

HB07-1281 also sets the first renewable energy standard for all rural electric cooperatives in Colorado. Under this legislation, all electric cooperatives would be required to get 10% of their electricity from renewables by 2020.

The bill also 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.

“This legislation will create thousands of jobs for rural Colorado, but will also conserve 18 billion gallons of water between now and 2020,” said Coyne.

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. 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.

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%.

HB07-1281 was sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz (D – Snowmass Village) and Representatives Jack Pommer (D – Boulder) and Rob Witwer (R- Genesee).

SB07-100 was sponsored by Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D – Coal Creek Canyon) and Rep. Buffie McFadyen (D – Pueblo West).