Colorado is quickly becoming a leader in the “New Energy Economy” as the state pursues one of the most ambitious clean energy requirements in the country– a 30% renewable electricity standard by 2020. Even under current law, Colorado is already ahead of the curve, requiring 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources, with 0.8% of total electricity coming from solar energy. The specific solar standard requires that half of the solar brought online must come from “distributed generation” (DG) solar that is located on-site at customers’ homes and businesses. While both large-scale central station and DG solar have an important role in the state’s clean energy future, as the industry has developed over the past few years it has become clear that DG solar brings a particular set of benefits to Colorado. DG solar supports local business growth and allows every Coloradan to directly contribute to the New Energy Economy by producing their own clean electricity. DG solar also helps utilities reduce costs of purchasing expensive peak power electricity and updating grid infrastructure– all cost savings that ultimately benefit ratepayers.
With the Colorado Legislature poised to dramatically increase the state’s commitment to clean energy, Vote Solar and Environment Colorado examined the economic and environmental benefits that Colorado can expect from generating roughly 3% of electricity sales from DG solar, and expanding this requirement to include all electricity producers in the state. Such a goal roughly equates to 1,000 MW of DG solar energy by 2020, enough solar to power 146,000 Coloradan homes. Creating an aggressive DG requirement would unlock more of the state’s valuable solar energy resource, spurring job growth and associated environmental benefits.