Colorado Poised to Set Second-Highest U.S. RES

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. has said that he is prepared to sign into law later this month a bill passed by both houses of the legislature that would require the largest utilities operating in the state to generate 30% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Only California has a higher goal for its renewable portfolio standard (RES).

"Six years ago," the governor wrote in a March 11 editorial, "the people of Colorado showed incredible foresight by adopting the nation’s first voter-approved renewable energy standard, 10 percent by 2015." The legislature doubled the standard to 20% by 2020 in 2007.

Though the different details of state standards make it difficult to compare them directly, in terms of percentage goals, the new RES would tie Colorado and Maine for second place behind California, with its 33% by 2020 goal.

HB 1001 will expand the use of distributed generation such as rooftop solar. Ritter said he expects at least 100,000 additional rooftop solar systems over the next decade and noted that rooftop generation doesn’t require new transmission lines.

The bill also includes all types of renewable generation, including hydropower from irrigation ditches, wind-power, and biomass from beetle-kill trees.

As for cost, Ritter said, "The legislation also provides a statutory framework that will not increase costs to consumers. In fact, because of the success of our New Energy Economy, we have seen prices come down in renewable energy, allowing for even greater purchasing power."

The governor commented that the state’s focus on renewables "has attracted companies like Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines, and SMA Solar, one of the world’s leading producers of solar inverters. These two companies are adding up to 3,200 Colorado jobs to the state’s workforce. "

Sources: Denver Post, POWERnews

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