Rural Colorado already is doing its part to develop renewable resources and diversify our state's energy portfolio. With a veto of SB 252, Gov. Hickenlooper can give that substantial effort a chance to yield dividends-while also ensuring rural ratepayers are able to afford their utility bills.
Renewable energy may be a popular catch phrase along Colorado's urban Front Range, but it has turned into fighting words across much of rural Colorado. Not because rural communities are against it, to the extent it makes economic sense, but because they're about to be force-fed an overdose by state Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.
It is sad in these rough economic times that our single-party Colorado state government would impose a law that has the same effect as a tax increase on its people by passing expensive legislation cleverly introduced under the cover of environmental benefit. This just does not make common sense.
A Democratic bill to boost the renewable energy standard in rural Colorado is being rushed through the legislature. Its sponsors should slow down and consider making it less onerous. ...Because they weren't involved in drafting the bill, Tri-State quickly calculated it would cost them between $2 billion and $4 billion to meet the new standard.
Senators Bennet and Udall have consistently backed extension of three little-known items: the Production Tax Credit, the Investment Tax Credit, and Section 1603 grants. These notorious mechanisms provide billions in subsidies to the least efficient, most hated, and most environmentally destructive type of power generation: industrial wind projects.
Xcel wants Boulder to pay the wind developer for "curtailment costs" -- these are revenues lost when Xcel has to dump the wind energy because Xcel's load can be met by their coal fired generators and independent generators to which they have contract commitments. Xcel also wants Boulder to pay 100 percent of Xcel's "integration costs" -- these are costs Xcel incurs in managing wind-generated electricity.
Colorado is widely recognized for its wind-power capabilities, but even there, wind power is inconsistent and undependable. Studies by Bentek Energy, which examined energy deployment in Texas and Colorado, found that emissions of pollutants actually increase with RES because wind requires backup generation by fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
But a conference held in Denver earlier this month gave a sobering preview of major land decisions ahead for this nation. Experts at CLE International's convention on Historic Preservation and Tribal Consultation: Energy & Transmission Projects predicted that energy projects will be bigger and come faster than any of us foresee, with great impacts on ethnographic and rural historic districts.
"Cleaner air and cheaper energy" was the slogan when voters mandated wind and other renewable sources for 10 percent of the state's electric generation with Amendment 37 in 2004. Democratic legislators liked the idea so much that they upped the mandate to 20 percent in 2007 and boosted it this year to 30 percent.
One small problem: Neither half of the slogan is true.
The judge overseeing the CPCN proceedings decided the PUC should consider additional testimony before making a decision. The additional testimony will focus on the impact of Colorado's recently passed Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that requires 30% of the state's energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 and encourages a shift toward pursuing distributed generation.
Thanks to Colorado's renewable portfolio standard, wind power is a "must take" resource for Public Service, meaning the utility must incorporate wind power into the grid even if it means ramping down a coal-fired plant.
Now, Gov. Ritter and Democrats in Denver want to increase the renewable portfolio standard by 50 percent through House Bill 1001, without considering the consequences for Denver's air quality. Despite the $2 billion worth of new wind turbines installed since 2004, Denver's air quality has not improved.
The stimulus package passed by Congress in February included almost $80 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency, mass transit, updating the electrical grid and research.
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has made production, development, and delivery of renewable energy one of his department's highest priorities. But the government's focus on using public lands for power generation is not the best solution for our solar energy needs. There is a better way.
In the local news, Tri-State Generation, an independent electricity generation company ...and Duke Energy, the third-largest coal consumer in the American electric utility business, have announced that they're going to put up 34 big wind turbines near Burlington in eastern Colorado.
The governor's office said this would equal 55 megawatts (55,000,000 watts) of new, green power. ...Actual wind production is never more than about 30 percent of nameplate over an annual average, since the wind doesn't blow constantly, even in Burlington.
So the news should have been that another 15 megawatts, on average over the year, has been added to the Front Range grid.
European countries have been pushing a green jobs agenda far longer than America. Matthew Kahn, professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, summarizes their record in the May/June issue of the centrist journal Foreign Policy. While "an optimist can certainly find success stories" in green job creation, Kahn concludes, there's no doubt that the "subsidies are costly," and that they not only "distort consumption and investment decisions" but result in "a less robust economy."
What I remembered most was the quiet solitude, listening to the gentle breezes brush though the grass against my tent. When I arrived at the trailhead I was appalled to see windmills as far as the eye could see to the north and west.
Being sadly disappointed, I headed further east in search of more Chalk Bluffs that could afford some good photography. I drove all the way to Sterling and could not find one bit of the plateau without windmills.
In the 20 years I have lived in Colorado, I have seen the transition from a growing, functional economy into an economy that increasingly relies on obscure, "politically correct" subsidies such as solar- and wind-power generation that are touted as solutions to our economic woes. ...these partisan policies are undermining Colorado's economy.
Democrats can't get to Denver without dumping carbon into the air.
They're washing away the sins of transportation and electrification by purchasing carbon offsets from a Vermont-based broker called NativeEnergy. ...This modern-day indulgence is officially called the "Green Delegate Challenge." For a mere $7.50, delegates and attendees can buy a carbon offset, making them at least theoretically responsible for new alternative energy. They can then forget about the emissions from jets, limos, buses, trains and taxis they take to Denver. They also can flash the lights, crank up the soundstages and rock 'n' roll like the dominant force they've become with that rhetoric about saving the planet.
For an East Coast liberal hoping to make it to Denver for next month's Democratic National Convention, air or car travel can create quite the carbon-foot printed nightmare. While the DNCC has attempted to help limit the number of guilty consciences by offering to sell delegates carbon credits alleged to help offset damage to mother earth, it turns out that a primary source of these credits is a sham. ...an eastern Colorado wind turbine "tapped for the [DNC's] carbon-offset problem has one problem: It doesn't generate any electricity."
If local citizens want to assuage their guilt about energy use and carbon footprints they must first prepare themselves for a few simple inconvenient truths. That's because some wind and solar true believers conveniently dispense with rational discussion concerning what's possible to achieve in meeting future electric energy needs along with what it will cost to make significant gains.
Were it not for the huge taxpayer subsidies the "green" revolution promised for wind and solar would not be possible. ...
Our Department of Energy wants to achieve that 20 percent goal by the year 2030 and some States even want a more ambitious goal. Fortunately there are people who recognize that in order to achieve these goals we will need to build twice as much capacity because it isn't always windy where it needs to be.
These days we read and hear more and more about the exponential increases in renewable energy, particularly large wind farms such as those sprouting up on Colorado's front range and eastern plains. Colorado's Amendment 37 requires the state's largest utility companies to produce 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. A subsequent legislative action doubled that to 20 percent by 2020. ...This is all great news, right? Not if you are an independent grid system operator, and not if you're expecting all of this large scale wind power to help reduce global warming carbon emissions.
Wind power is by nature a notoriously intermittent source of power. Wind simply doesn't blow steadily all of the time. Therefore, the power output of all large scale wind farms goes up and down dramatically throughout the day, regardless of the demand for power on the grid. ...Without energy diversity, the more renewable power we mandate, the more unreliable the grid will become. The laws of physics simply can't be amended.