Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2007

State Renewable Energy Standards Move Forward - Is a Federal RES Next?

2007 is shaping up to be an active year for Renewable Energy Standard (RES) policies, with RES legislation moving forward in several states this year and both chambers of Congress considering federal legislation.

As reported previously, several states, including Minnesota, New Mexico and Colorado all recently passed legislation increasing their existing, successful state Renewable Energy Standard Policies. In addition, RES policies are moving forward in several new states, including Oregon, Virginia, Indiana and New Hampshire.

  • Oregon's Senate passed SB 838, the Oregon Renewable Energy Act with a bi-partisan 20-10 vote on April 10th. SB 838 requires Oregon utilities to get 5% of their electricity from new renewable energy sources by 2011, 15% by 2015, 20% by 2020, culminating in a 25% by 2025 standard. Small utilities are only required to get 5% of their electricity from renewables by 2020 (currently the cut-off is for utilities serving less than 5% of state load).

  • SB 838 moved to the House last week were the House Energy and Environment Committee heard testimony on the bill during three public hearings. The committee is expected to hold work sessions this week to hear amendments before passing the bill on the House floor. A floor vote is expected by the end of next week.

    See a series of previous posts here at Watthead for more on the Oregon Renewable Energy Act.

  • Virginia became the first state in the South to enact a RES policy on April 4th. Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly passed an electricity “re-regulation” bill that includes a utility-endorsed, non-binding RES “goal” for 12% of electricity to come from renewables by 2022.

    While a non-binding goal (similar to RES goals currently in place in Vermont and
    Illinois), the policy is notably for being the first in a Southern state setting renewable energy generation goals [excluding Texas I suppose].

    Additionally, Dominion Energy, the state's largest utility has said they plan to meet the goals, and while non-binding, the policy does including financial incentives to meet the goals, which could ensure an effective policy. Every time a utility hits one of the incremental targets, it can increase its base rate of return on equity by 0.5%, increasing the likelihood that utilities will work toward the goals and buy more wind and other renewables.

  • Just one day after Virginia enacted their RES legislation, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a Renewable Energy Standard bill with an overwhelming margin of 253-37.

    The RES would require New Hampshire to generate 16 percent of the state's energy from new renewable resources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro by 2025. Because the state already generates about 6 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, the final share of renewables will be about 22-25 percent by 2025.

    New Hampshire is currently the only state in New England without an RPS, but that looks like it will change soon. The bill now moves on to the state Senate where it is expected to pass with a strong majority. The RES bill also has the support of Governor John Lynch who is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

  • Indiana is also considering a 10% by 2025 Renewable Energy Standard. The RES bill passed the Indiana House by a vote of 77-20 last week, according to this blurb.

    [Unfortunately, I don't know much more than that about Indiana's bill... Anybody have any more details?]

  • Together, the wide variety of state action on Renewable Energy Standard bills this year should redraw the map of states with mandates supporting for renewable energy development. Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory RES policies in place, while two others have non-binding goals. The inclusion of Oregon, Virginia, New Hampshire and Indiana would push this number to 24 states with mandatory RES policies and 3 with non-binding goals, representing a majority of U.S. states and a vast majority of the United States population and energy consumption (see map below).

    [Image: Current and Proposed State Renewable Energy Standard Policies - April 2007 (Click to Enlarge)]

    And with Congress considering a federal RES policy this year, we could be entering the end game for Renewable Energy Standard policies in the U.S. On the House side, Congressman Tom Udall (D-NM) has introduced a 20% by 2020 national RES bill [see previous post] and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (also D-NM) has indicated his committee is planning to discuss a 15% by 2020 standard. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have circulated a letter of support for a "strong" federal RES policy which has now been signed by 50 senators.

    The success of state RES policies has clearly proven that an RES is an effective policy for driving renewable energy development and has paved the way (finally) for federal action.

    Read more!

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    Colorado Governor Signs Renewable Energy Laws - Doubles Renewable Energy Standard to 20% by 2020

    Colorado is now officially the latest addition to a growing list of states who have recently expanded their successful, existing Renewable Energy Standards.

    Tuesday, Governor Bill Ritter signed into law House Bill 1281 which expands the Renewable Energy Standard enacted by Colorado voters in 2004. The bill doubles the standard enacted by voter-approved Amendment 37 from 10% by 2015 to 20% by 2020. HB 1281 passed both the House and Senate with broad support, with a 59-5 vote in the House and a 27-8 vote in the Senate.

    "These new laws will improve our economic security, our environmental security and our national security," Governor Ritter said. "They will breathe new economic life into rural Colorado. They will create new jobs, and they will say to the rest of the world, 'Colorado is open for business in what will be one of the most important industries of the 21st century.'"

    But Colorado has some tough competition: California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota and New Mexico all recently upped their Renewable Energy Standards as well to comparable or even higher levels. And some states that are coming later to the game are aiming big: Oregon's legislature is currently considering a 25% by 2025 standard that would put Oregon up towards the front of the pack [See previous post].

    All of these states talk are competing for jobs in the growing cleantech/renewable energy field, one of the fastest growing new industries in the United States. The fierce competition to be "the Renewable Energy Capitol of the United States" is a good sign of the robust market ahead for renewable energy in the U.S.

    Governor Ritter also signed into law Senate Bill 100 on Wednesday. SB 100 is a bill designed to encourage investment in the transmission necessary to bring new wind and other renewable energy to load centers in Colorado.

    The Governor's office released the following fact sheets explaining HB 1281 and SB 100:

    Fact Sheet for House Bill 1281 and Senate Bill 100

    House Bill 1281

  • Sponsors: Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village; Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder; and Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Genesee.

  • Doubles the renewable energy standard established by voters with the 2004 passage of Amendment 37.

  • Large investor-owned utilities like Xcel must now provide 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020.

  • Requires municipal utilities and rural electric providers to achieve a renewable energy goal of 10 percent by 2020 (they had been excluded from the requirements of Amendment 37).

  • Provides a 3-to-1 credit to rural electric associations for investment in solar energy.

  • A recent study [see previous post] found HB 1281 would provide significant economic benefits, particularly to rural Colorado, by:
    o Increasing Colorado’s share of the GDP by $1.9 billion through 2020.
    o Increasing total wages paid to workers by $570 million.
    o Increasing the workforce by 4,100 person-years of employment.
    o Providing farmers, ranchers and other landowners with $50 million in lease payments for wind farms, crops and solar parks.
    o Generating $400 million in property tax revenue through 2020 to fund education and other services, particularly in rural Colorado.

  • Senate Bill 100
  • Sponsors: Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Coal Creek Canyon, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West.

  • Requires electric utilities subject to rate regulation to identify high-potential wind-energy locations by undertaking biennial reviews to designate “Energy Resource Zones” where transmission constraints hinder the delivery of electricity.

  • These utilities are then required to develop construction plans to improve transmission capacity.

  • The bill allows utilities to recover costs during construction.

  • Allows us to break the “chicken and the egg” cycle whereby wind companies don’t build turbines until there is adequate transmission capacity, and utilities don’t build transmission capacity until there are turbines.

  • [Image credit:]

    Read more!

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    Doubling Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard Could Add $1.9B to State's Economy

    [From Wind Energy Weekly/AWEA:]

    Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) joined clean energy advocates to announce a new report showing that if the state doubled its renewable energy by 20%, it would add $1.9 billion to the gross domestic production in the state.

    “More clean, homegrown energy means more jobs and higher wages paid for Coloradans,” said Ritter. “Increasing our use of renewable energy would bring over 4,000 high-paying, high-skilled jobs and over $570 million in wages paid to our state.”

    The economic boon would come from increased manufacturing, installation, and operation of renewable electricity production, according to the report, which is entitled “Energy for Colorado’s Economy.” Produced by Environment Colorado, the report compares economic and environmental benefits of three alternative polices on electricity production, including “business-as-usual” with fossil fuel production, Amendment 37 which set a 10% renewable energy standard, and the 20% goal currently being considered by the Colorado state legislature.

    The Environment Colorado report found job creation was 4.3 times higher, wages paid was 2.2 times higher, and an increase in gross domestic product was 1.9 times higher for a 20% renewable energy standard than under Amendment 37.

    “We have only just begun to tap the potential of a New Energy Economy,” said Ritter. “Continued investment in clean energy helps our state ensure economic prosperity.”

    The report shows that a 20% renewable energy goal would also result in significant reductions of soot, smog, and mercury pollution. Also, since wind and most solar resources use a negligible amount of water compared to fossil fuel sources, Colorado could save over 18 billion gallons of water by 2020, according to the report.

    “Increasing our use of wind and solar power will help continue to unlock the economic potential of rural Colorado,” said Lee Swenson, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “ Colorado farmers benefit most from homegrown power and earn anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 for each wind [turbine] on their farms. Increasing the opportunities for community-based energy generation, on farms and ranches, will provide even greater economic benefits and returns to the rural economy.”

    Craig Cox, executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, noted that renewable energy policies help build the manufacturing sector. “A robust local renewable energy market is one of the number one things [wind power and other renewable] manufacturers will need before deciding to set up shop,” said Cox. “By doubling Colorado’s renewable energy standard to 20% by 2020, we become a competitive state for new manufacturing facilities.”

    The report is available at

    In 2004, Colordao became the first state in the country to enact a Renewable Energy Standard by popular referendum. Amendment 37 requires Colorado's larger utilities to get 10% of their energy from clean, homegrown, renewable energy sources by 2015. It now appears that Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest utility, is on track to blow through the 10% target several years ahead of schedule, and the Colorado State Legislature is considering expanding the RES to 20% by 2020.

    Read more!