California has taken strong action to promote or require renewable energy. It is the national leader on this front. Currently, it’s renewable energy standard is 33% by 2020.
However, with the passage of new legislation in Colorado, Colorado is now nipping close at its heels.
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On March 5th, the Colorado state Senate approved a measure to increase the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) to 30% by 2020. On March 8th, the Colorado House approved the bill.
This comes just 6 years after Colorado passed its first RES of 10% by 2015.
In the Denver Post last Sunday, State Representative Max Tyler wrote, “There’s new energy in town, and it’s powering a boom that will make Colorado a leader in recovering from this financial downturn. This clean renewable energy will grow Colorado’s economy and lead to a brighter future.”
Currently, Colorado’s solar energy economy employs about 2,500 people. That is sure to increase with this new RES in place.
Vote Solar and Environment Colorado, in their recent “Investing in the Sun” report, found that a 3% distributed energy generation standard (included in the legislation for large investor-owned utilities) expanded to all of the state’s utilities would create 3,333 construction-period jobs per year (33,500 over the next ten years). It would also save 6.8 billion gallons of water and avoid 30 million tons of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of taking nearly 670,000 cars off the road.
Just creating this requirement for investor-owned utilities, which this legislation does, is expected to create 23,450 jobs over the next ten years.
“Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than any other energy resource. This study was intended to shine a spotlight on the real and immediate economic development opportunity Colorado could realize if a stronger statewide solar requirement were enacted,” said Annie Carmichael, Vote Solar’s policy lead for Colorado.
Colorado’s new community solar garden idea might also really have the backing and momentum to take off with this new RES. Whether or not that will create too much distributed energy competition for only a 3% utility requirement is yet to be seen. But if it is “too” successful, Colorado could always increase that distributed energy requirement.
Colorado seems to be on a roll. Will it pick up more renewable energy speed and pass up California as the leading renewable energy state? Will other states follow suit and pass similarly ambitious Renewable Energy Standards? Will California try to pull further ahead and reach for 40%? I don’t know, but it is nice to see this happening at the state level as we wait on important national legislation.
Image Credit: slack12 via flickr under a CC license