New Report: Colorado Should Tap into its Vast Solar Energy Potential
Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center
Leaders from government, business and non-profit sectors joined together Thursday to endorse Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs campaign and support the vision that Colorado can get 10 percent of its energy from solar by 2030 – up from less than 1 percent today.
Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center’s new report: A Million Solar Roofs for Colorado outlines the vast solar potential in Colorado and the environmental benefits of tapping into even a fraction of that potential. The report outlines how Colorado can harness its 300 days of sunshine a year to make solar a mainstream energy source.
“With the right policies in place, clean, renewable solar power can become a significant part of Colorado’s energy mix,” said Senior Associate Jeanne Bassett of Environment Colorado. “That is why we’re asking Governor John Hickenlooper to set a goal for Colorado to put up one million solar roofs by 2030.”
(Environment Colorado’s Jeanne Bassett (speaking) joined by (left to right) John Bringenberg and Rebecca Cantwell with COSEIA (Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association), and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.)
Leaders of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), which launched its Million Solar Roofs vision and website in February, said they stand ready to put on their tool belts and get to work.
The two groups announced that more than 240 organizations, businesses and elected officials have joined forces endorsing the Million Solar Roofs campaign, which calls for installing the equivalent of a million solar roofs, 3 Gigawatts of solar, by 2030.
“One of the many benefits of solar is that it is all about jobs,” said John Bringenberg, COSEIA board member and owner of SunTalk Solar. “Installing the equivalent of a million solar roofs will create thousands of excellent skilled jobs throughout the state by hundreds of Colorado focused solar installation companies. Key to meeting this goal will be policies encouraging builders to include solar on all new homes in the future.”
According to Environment Colorado’s new report, Colorado could be doing much more to harness the sun’s power and make solar a central player in the State’s energy strategy. Analyses have shown that by 2030, solar power can help Colorado avoid 3.6 million metric tons of global warming pollution and would help protect public health by reducing harmful air pollution from the state’s fossil fuel-fired plants. Meeting the goal would be the equivalent of taking 900,000 vehicles off the road.
In launch events around Colorado on Thursday, supporters made clear that solar power is good for the state’s economy and environment.
In Grand Junction, the event was held at School District 51’s Career Center. “Beyond delivering clean energy, solar power provides a great advantage to the consumer,’’ said Energy Manager of School District 51 Eric Anderson. “Solar maintains stable electricity prices and reduces the electricity losses that result from long distance transmission lines to central power plants. Solar makes sense for the environment, economy and the consumer.”
In Rifle, the campaign was launched at the Police Department, which is installing solar panels on its building as part of a community effort install 425 kilowatts of solar on eight City facilities, making each site effectively net-zero and saving the City approximately $440,000 in energy bills over the life of the project. “The Rifle Police Department, as a strong partner in the Rifle community, is happy to be part of this project,’’ said Rifle Police Chief John Dyer. “The goal of increasing our use of renewable energy is a goal we can all be proud of.”
In Aspen, an event late Thursday was scheduled at the Hyatt Grand Hotel, which has a large solar thermal array on the roof.
In 2004, Colorado became the first state to adopt a renewable energy standard by popular vote. Colorado’s clean energy industry is drawing millions of dollars in capital investment already. Despite this potential, New Jersey has about four times more installed solar energy than Colorado, according to SEIA’s 2012 U.S. Solar Insight Report.
“Colorado is poised to regain a leadership position nationwide when it comes to solar legislation. We have the political will to provide Colorado’s citizens the opportunities they clearly want to install more solar energy,” said COSEIA Board President Piper Foster.
Environment Colorado’s report urges government officials to promote the development of Colorado’s solar energy market through ambitious policies. Key policies highlighted in the report include:
- Strengthening the state’s renewable energy standard
- Maintaining and strengthening net metering policies
- Making solar energy an attractive investment for all customers, encouraging programs such as feed-in tariffs, low-interest loans, and Property Assessed Clean Energy projects
- Developing Colorado’s potential for solar water heating
- Renewing tax exemption programs
- Support of community solar projects
- Eliminating regulatory barriers to the expansion of solar energy
“We’ve taken major steps forward with solar over the past few years. The progress we’ve made so far should enable us to move to the next level,” concluded Bassett. “But in order to continue this progress we need to see commitment from our state leaders. Here in Colorado, we are counting on Governor Hickenlooper to take the lead.”
Jeanne Bassett, [email protected], 303-573-3871 ext 3
Rebecca Cantwell, [email protected], 720-209-6000