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Colorado's Economic Approach to Clean Energy

Earlier this month, Governor Hickenlooper signed an executive order compelling a greenhouse gas emissions cut, committing Colorado to reducing emissions more than 26% by 2025.  Can Hickenlooper compel utilities, companies and customers to act without legislative backing?   He recognizes the challenge, from opposing bipartisan agendas to federal funding cuts, but with the full support of The Sierra Club, Hickenlooper hopes to inspire change.  The order includes a state-wide EV plan by January 1, 2018 to build out key charging corridors to reduce range anxiety and air pollution.  Despite the recent defunding of the Energy Office, $68 million is dedicated to Colorado for the next 10 years.  Regarding the power sector, the goal is for the Public Utility Commission to move forward with proposals for wind and solar power replacements.  Economic trends reveal that wind and solar are the cheapest solutions and Xcel is looking into these alternatives.   In July, Xcel released its Demand-Side Management (DSM) plan to assess market potential in Colorado.  Xcel wants to reach the Commission-approved annual energy savings goal by offering cost effective solutions to customers.

Zach Pierce, of The Sierra Club, states their objective is to put more emphasis on the social cost of carbon emissions and hopes that utilities will act to formalize a plan that reinforces Hickenlooper’s executive order.  “Ultimate success depends on the robust cooperation from the Sierra Club and others. In the business sector, for example, Clean Tech was ranked one of the fastest growing businesses in 2015.  It’s also a new opportunity for the Public Health community to address pollution. Colorado’s Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and related organizations all play an important part.”

Will adding Colorado to the U.S. Climate Alliance benefit the efforts of the organization?  Governor Hickenlooper has joined the U.S. Climate Alliance in an effort to meet the emissions reduction goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.  He reaffirms this is not an anti-Trump decision but instead an effort to promote clean air, encourage EV transportation to reduce air pollution and boost economy by joining the fast growing industry of wind and solar power. Colorado is the first intermountain state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance and is in a unique position to pioneer the transition to clean energy. Colorado currently relies on fossil fuels for 70% of its power.  Pierce acknowledges there are two ways to look at that fact.  1) They have a very long way to go to reach their goals.  Or 2) Colorado is a trailblazer for creating innovative ideas that will serve as a model to other bipartisan states.  

For more details on the long term community transition plans for Colorado read Part 2 of Colorado’s Economic Approach to Clean Energy.

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