DENVER—Legislation to expand and strengthen Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), the cornerstone to this year’s New Energy Economy agenda, passed on 2nd reading today in the House on a party line vote. The measure’s sponsors include Representatives Max Tyler (D-Lakewood), Jack Pommer (D – Boulder), and Sens. Bruce Whitehead (D- Hesperus) and Gail Schwartz (D- Snowmass).
The bill, HB10-1001, increases Colorado’s renewable energy standard from 20% to 30% – keeping the target date of 2020 the same. The new standard will allow Coloradans to get a larger percentage of clean electricity from sources such as wind and solar- more than almost anywhere else in the country.
“Colorado’s New Energy Economy is putting people and our state to work. We have one of the highest concentrations of workers in the clean energy industry,” said Gov. Bill Ritter. “Last week, I testified in support of this legislation because increasing our renewable energy standard will give another much needed boost to our economy. This bill will add solar to 100,000 rooftops. Also, it will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade and clean power that protects our environment.”
The improved standard, a centerpiece of Gov. Ritter’s 2010 agenda as well as House and Senate leadership, builds on a track record of success, and is the second time in 4 years the General Assembly is renewing their commitment to a clean energy future that has proven to bring new jobs and new business investments to the state economy.
“We are going to make Colorado the best in the Rocky Mountain West,” said Pam Kiely, program director of Environment Colorado. “With close to a third of our electricity coming from clean, homegrown renewable resources, we will be a model for the rest of the country at a defining time in the debate about our nation’s energy future. We can, and should, take this next bold step.”
HB1001 also marks a significant increase in Colorado’s commitment to local, homegrown renewable energy such as rooftop solar or local community wind farms. Distributed Generation (DG), or ‘on-site’ electricity, is produced right where we need it most, on homes, farms, and businesses. More locally generated electricity helps to avoid costly transmission upgrades and helps to stabilize the electricity grid.
Residential renewable businesses have tripled in Colorado since Coloradans first voted for a Renewable Energy Standard at the ballot box in 2004. Additionally, solar photovoltaic installation creates more job per megawatt than any other electricity source.
“Solar has been the bright spot in Colorado’s economy,” said Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood. “Colorado is on a path towards having half a million solar rooftops powering our state- which is great news for a growing industry. With a predictable market, more companies will set up shop and add good, green collar jobs.”
In addition to small mom and pop installers, Colorado’s leadership has attracted other interest. Vestas, a global leader in wind energy development, has also set-up shop in state, with four manufacturing facilities planned. By the time they are at full capacity in 2011, assuming adequate market demand, Vestas will employ more than 2,500 in Colorado.
“Colorado’s eastern plains hold some of the top wind resources in the whole country,” said Craig Cox, of Interwest Energy Alliance- a renewable trade association. “It’s important to maintain our policy leadership so we can continue to be the state that attracts new investments.”
The job and employment benefits of HB1001 are not an afterthought- the legislation directs the state utilities commission to look at employment metrics and seek to enhance Colorado’s workforce as they evaluate bids for new renewable energy projects. Furthermore, HB1001 sets in place a certification standard for solar installation to ensure that workers are well-trained for this fast-growing industry.
“Colorado needs a skilled, well-trained workforce to build a 21st century energy future,” said Mike Cerbo, president of Colorado AFL-CIO, “and we are excited that the General Assembly is showing commitment to bringing good, green jobs to the state.”
HB 1001 has one more vote on the floor of the House before it moves on to the Senate.