BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Colorado Energy Office
AAA Colorado’s office on Willow Drive in Greenwood Village was the setting on September 13 for more than 50 government and business leaders of the South Metro Denver Chamber to learn about our state’s evolving energy economy as it rapidly transitions to clean energy, including zero emission vehicles.
Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, former Boulder mayor and county commissioner, and holder of a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago, said “It’s a really exciting time in clean energy.” He detailed the impact of several of the 15 clean-energy-related bills passed during the 2019 legislative session.
HB 1261 set statewide goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 from what they were in 2005. “The Colorado Energy Office is leading the effort to achieve those goals,” said Toor, who plans to use broad based public engagement for that purpose.
With Xcel Energy’s support, SB 236 codified into law Xcel’s target of reducing “carbon dioxide emissions associated with electricity sales by 80 percent from 2005 levels,” and by 2050, to provide “its customers with energy generated from 100 percent clean energy resources.”
HB 1314, The Just Transition Bill, was passed to provide a transition office in the division of employment and training of the state’s department of labor and employment to provide benefits to coal transition workers “to enable them to support themselves and their families and to access and complete education and training, resulting in being hired for high-quality jobs.”
Toor pointed out that the Denver area is currently in violation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ozone standards, owing primarily to vehicle emissions and oil and gas activities in Weld County. Every electric vehicle added to the grid in Colorado will save other electricity consumers $600 over their lifetime,
Toor explained, because people mostly charge their electric vehicles at night when the electric grid is underutilized. Although there are only 25,000 electric vehicles on the road now, the state’s goal is to raise that number to 1 million by 2030. He said that automobile dealers are on board with “making Colorado the pre-eminent place in the country for electric vehicles.
The Colorado Energy Office will now begin to expand its focus to expanding the use of electricity in commercial buildings in the state.
Mike Kruger, president and CEO of the Colorado Solar & Storage Association told the group that his group “wants to bring jobs and prosperity to Colorado.” He said that wind and solar energy are both relatively cheap and that there will never be another coal plant built in this state. Across Colorado, these 11 jurisdictions have already committed to 100 percent renewable/clean energy: Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, Summit County, Frisco, Pueblo, Nederland, and Aspen. Others, said Kruger, have made public commitments to cut carbon and address climate change through initiatives like the Compact of Mayors or by establishing their own Climate Action Plans.
Kruger said the challenges facing the solar industry are availability of a sufficient workforce, transmission and distribution systems, tariffs, federal policy, and the investment tax credit, which will go down from 30 percent to zero in the next three years unless it is extended by the federal government.
Tyler Svitak, executive director of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, said that his agency’s goal is to help government leverage technology to solve problems. He cited as an example that 40 percent more people die in traffic accidents in Colorado now than in 2011. In Denver, he said, one in 12 children have asthma.
“Problems ignore boundaries,” Svitak pointed out. Technology brings the ability to use data across boundaries. Cities need to partner with private industry, but more importantly, they must do better at talking to each other, according to Svitak.
He encouraged local governments to take advantage of a new space at Arrow Electronics in Centennial just opened on September 12 as a Smart Cities Alliance laboratory.
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