Utilities Across the State are Scaling Up Renewables Commitments

By: Sara Vargo

Across the state, utilities are making significant moves in scaling up their renewable energy goals. Recent announcements include:

  • Holy Cross Energy committed to 70% renewable energy and 70% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030;

  • Fort Collins committed to 100% renewable energy; and

  • Colorado Springs approved plans for a 150MW solar and storage project.

As renewable energy prices have dropped considerably and the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions increases, Colorado is demonstrating leadership and momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here’s a snapshot of these commitments:

Holy Cross Energy Commits to 70% Clean Energy & Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals

Holy Cross Energy announced its plan to shift power supplies away from coal and increase its use of renewable energy to 70% by the year 2030. The Glenwood Springs based electric cooperative says the plan would lead to a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2014 levels.

These shifts will not increase in the costs of the power supply.

Holy Cross Energy released a fact sheet complementing the news release with highlights including developing at least one utility scale clean energy project every three years starting in 2020, continued purchasing of power from local renewable energy providers (currently 13% of its power supply), and a goal of adding at least 2 megawatts of new rooftop solar each year on members’ homes and businesses.

When asked for his advice for fellow Compact members in this process, Holy Cross Energy board member Dave Munk shared, “The best and first place to start is with your local utility - tell them where you’re trying to go. It’s even better if you can involve them in the early stages of developing your climate goals. Utilities are more receptive to the interests of their customers or members than ever before. Building a good, collaborative working relationship is the best way to achieve your goals, no matter what type of utility you have.”

Dave also emphasized, “Keep in mind Holy Cross’s ability to achieve our goals is heavily based on our power supply agreement because it’s more flexible than most. Not everyone can look at our new GHG goals and turn to their utility expecting something similar… Utilities are increasingly receptive [to climate and renewable goals], though each has its own limitations to account for.”

For additional insights, check out Joe Smyth’s article at Clean Cooperative.

Fort Collins Commits to 100% Renewable Energy


On October 2nd The City of Fort Collins made a community-wide commitment to achieve 100% renewable electricity by the year 2030. During deliberation, the council chambers were filled with supporters wearing shirts or holding signs for 100%. The plan sets a 100 percent renewable energy goal with a caveat that the resolution doesn’t sacrifice affordability or reliability to customers and includes annual status updates.

Fort Collins City Council voted in favor of the plan 6-1. It will be the 9th Colorado city to make such a pledge including Aspen, Breckenridge, Boulder, Denver, Lafayette, Longmont, Nederland, and Pueblo.

The council member, Ken Summers, that voted against the plan said even he was ‘optimistic’. Summers has solar panels on his own home and supports renewable energy use statewide. His vote ‘no’ was simply out of concern for such an aspirational goal to be reached within the given time frame and that failing to meet that goal would appear to be a broken promise to the city and the state.

The plan sets a 100 percent renewable energy goal with a caveat that the resolution doesn’t sacrifice affordability or reliability to customers and includes annual status updates.

"I think this is very achievable,” Ross Cunniff, another Fort Collins Council Member said, “The other thing is we're not prescribing what to do. Instead, we're directing city staff to work with PRPA to create a plan to get there."

For more information, visit the Coloradan.

Colorado Springs Approves Plans for 150 MW Solar and Storage Project

On September 19th, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board approved plans for a 150 MW solar and storage project. The facility is expected to be operational by 2024, and will help the utility produce over a fifth of its electricity from renewable energy by then.

“This is the future,” board member Richard Skorman said. “This is getting to be more and more of a solution for community after community and we’re sitting her arguing over 13 cents. … We’re going to do something many people in our community want us to do. We are a citizen’s utility for this purpose.”

Learn more on this development at the Gazette.