Colorado Adopts Ambitious Renewable Energy Standard
On March 22, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, above at center, signed into law a bill requiring that 30 percent of the state's electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2020, giving Colorado the highest renewable energy standard in the Rocky Mountain West and one of the highest nationally.
"This is a huge victory for our coalition efforts," says Colorado Sierra Club organizer Roger Singer, above at left, with Governor Ritter and renewable energy entrepreneur Jeff Scott, owner of SolSource Energy Solutions.
The Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter has been part of a broad coalition of citizen groups, including conservation, labor, and health care advocates and the renewable energy business community, in promoting House Bill 10-1001.
"This is a commitment to clean energy that is unparalleled in the country," Ritter told a crowd of elected officials and coalition members at a bill-signing ceremony at SolSource's Denver headquarters. A regular advertiser in Peak & Prairie, the Rocky Mountain Chapter's newsletter, SolSource has installed hundreds of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems for homes, schools, municipal buildings, military bases, and businesses throughout Colorado.
Below, a solar energy rally held by the coalition in Denver this February, led by CoSEIA (Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association) while the bill was being deliberated at the state’s House of Representatives. More than 250 people marched a mile from downtown Denver to the state capitol to show support for creating more small-scale, decentralized energy-based jobs.
Under the new renewable energy standard, Xcel Energy and other investor-owned utilities serving Coloradans will be required to draw 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, rather than the current 20 percent.
"This is what can happen when a progressive governor takes the initiative on promoting renewable energy at a time when federal efforts are log-jammed over partisan ideology,” says Singer. “Our diverse coalition of supporters was able to provide the extra grassroots support that pushed this bill through the statehouse quickly and get Governor Ritter the results he deserves for his hard work in creating a clean energy economy in Colorado."
The new law emphasizes small-scale, home-based energy production, and the Governor's Energy Office predicts the program could result in 100,000 homes with solar panels, small wind turbines, and other energy-producing devices.
Ritter told the Denver Post that Colorado's reputation for being friendly to renewable energy has helped it attract companies. He mentioned another state that had recently made the short list for attracting a major electronic payment company, but because that state lacked a renewable energy standard, the company instead chose to become "one of the new-energy-economy pioneers" in Colorado.