The holiday season is in full swing in Colorado with the gift of clean energy. The renewable energy future is looking bright thanks to new municipal and corporate commitments, growing voices asking for accountability, and the establishment of a new statewide clean energy fund all announced within the first week of December. Here’s our breakdown of what you need to know:
Over a dozen Coloradan communities have now committed to 100% renewable electricity, with the newest additions of Estes Park on December 6th and Fort Collins in October. The total committed communities represent over 1.3 million people across Colorado, nearly a fourth of the state’s population, and are part of a growing list of 100 across the country. On the same night, Platte River Power Authority announced they would go carbon-free by 2030. Their service area includes Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont, and Loveland. Fort Collins also passed their Building Energy and Water Scoring Program on December 7th, underlining the importance of reducing demand through benchmarking and transparency in lockstep with the energy transition.
Just days before PRPA’s announcement, Xcel Energy declared they will commit to a 100% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 across their eight state service territory, a first of any major US utility. They also included a progress goal of 80% reduction by 2030. The decision and timing of it is likely a response in-part to Governor-Elect Polis’ commitment to bring Colorado to 100% renewable energy by 2040, and the Democratic takeover of the Colorado House and Senate.
As the momentum for renewable energy is fueled by new political and economic realities, members of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association are holding the electric service provider accountable. Delta Montrose Electric Association “strongly reaffirmed its intent to exit” Tri-State’s membership, their filing with the Colorado PUC emphasized the electricity wholesale provider’s close ties to coal and high energy rates. United Power, Tri-State’s largest member, is seeking a more diplomatic pathway to change the bylaws to allow for more local renewable energy generation. Meanwhile, other members like La Plata Electric Association continue to investigate their options.
Taking us home on this whirlwind of news is the launch of the Colorado Clean Energy Fund as part of the Colorado Climate Plan. Governor Hickenlooper made the announcement of the Fund on December 8th at the US Climate Action Center in Katowice, Poland. In a statement (video link), Governor Hickenlooper said “Access to financing capital for clean energy projects will make our state an even bigger draw for businesses looking to move and invest here.” The Fund will bring the “green bank” model to Colorado, building on the success of similar programs in New York and Connecticut, and open new opportunities of financing for clean energy in the state.