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.

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