DENVER—The Colorado State Senate voted for a strong renewable energy standard today on 2nd reading. The measure’s sponsors include Senator Gail Schwartz (D – SnowmassVillage) and Representatives Jack Pommer (D – Boulder) and Rob Witwer (R- Genesee).
“In the horse race to create a clean energy economy, Colorado has hit a trifecta: we are accelerating economic development, generating affordable energy, and protecting our environment,” said Matt Baker, Executive Director of Environment Colorado.
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. The bill has one more reading before the full Senate before heading to the Governor’s desk.
Several amendments to weaken the bill failed today including an exemption for Intermountain Rural Electric Association – the state’s largest electric cooperative – and an amendment to weaken the definition of renewables to include large-scale hydro projects which would have lessened the investment new clean energy sources such as wind and solar power by electric cooperatives.
“The support of Xcel Energy, the Colorado Rural Electric Association, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, labor organizations, and renewable energy providers have been instrumental in the progress this measure has made in recent weeks,” continued Baker. 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.
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%.
“This measure lays dead the myth that the environment and the economy cannot mutually benefit,” said Will Coyne, Program Director of Environment Colorado.