Category Archives: Politics

Boulder’s Power Supply: Is there an Optimal Mix for Boulder?

Wiley Barbour, Vice President, Camco North America, Alden Hathaway, Senior Vice President, Sterling Planet & Ben Vitale, Executive Director, The Climate Trust

Presentation Synopsis

Energy and climate professionals, Wiley Barbour, Ben Vitale and Alden Hathaway will discuss the different options available for the City of Boulder to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

These options include:
(1) Directly generating electricity with renewable forms of generation and retaining all environmental attributes (Renewable Energy Credits, REC’s) associated with each MWh of electricity production;
(2) Directly purchasing electricity produced with renewable forms of generation along with the RECs associated with each MWh of electricity production;

(3) Continuing to purchase electricity generated mostly from fossil fuels, but purchasing RECs associated with renewable forms of generation to offset all or some of the MWhs of electricity produced by fossil fuel generation; and

(4) Continuing to purchase energy (which may include electricity, natural gas, or transport fuels) generated mostly or entirely with fossil fuels, but purchasing GHG/carbon credits which result in the verified reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at a specified source of emissions.

The intention of the presentation is to provide a contextual framework within which Boulder residents may evaluate a long-term GHG–offset or REC purchase proposal, such as the Xcel Energy proposal, and especially to consider the appropriate mix of these four various options for Boulder’s energy future.

Speaker Bio’s

Wiley Barbouris the Vice President for Corporate Development for Camco, a global emissions reduction and project development company. As an expert in environmental markets he has spent the last 20 years of his career providing technical, and policy support to governments, corporations, and nonprofit clients on issues related to air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, corporate climate change strategy, and environmental markets.

Prior to joining Camco, Wiley served for 6 years as the Executive Director of Environmental Resources Trust (ERT), a national nonprofit environmental organization focused on harnessing the power of markets to protect the environment. At ERT, Wiley supported transactions of millions of tons of verified emission reductions while managing the world’s first on-line GHG registry. After successfully leading ERT into a merger with Winrock International, Wiley founded the American Carbon Registry which continues to support early action to reduce GHG emissions. From 1995 to 2001, Wiley served as a senior policy analyst in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Policy Office where he coordinated the U.S. Government’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Program and participated in the international negotiations on climate change. In addition, Wiley contributed to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Ben Vitale is a carbon market expert with over 20 years of executive experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He is the first President of The Climate Trust, succeeding the founding Executive Director in December 2009. Before joining The Climate Trust, Ben served as Managing Director of the Conservation and Community Carbon Fund at Conservation International (CI), where he worked with the private sector to develop climate change solutions and new financial instruments that create business value and achieve measurable climate change results. He supported the development of conservation carbon projects in Biodiversity Hotspots around the world including Ecuador, China, and Brazil. He also advised governments and partners on climate change in countries such as Guyana, Liberia, Madagascar, and Suriname.  Ben has served as an adviser for Ecosystem Marketplace, the Chicago Climate Exchange, and Patagonia Sur and also has been a contributor to the books A Climate for LifeClimate Change & Forests, and Voluntary Carbon Markets.

Alden Hathaway manages Sterling Planet’s new customer accounts in the non-residential sector.  Sterling Planet offers comprehensive carbon neutral solutions for businesses, universities and organizations, bringing together supply and demand side solutions in a rapidly emerging environmental market. Mr. Hathaway has extensive experience in clean energy policy, market development and application of leading-edge technology. As Director of EcoPower Programs for the Environmental Resources Trust (ERT), Mr. Hathaway coordinated renewable energy certification, as well as energy and environmental consulting services for national accounts, utilities and government agencies. He also provided input for development of EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program.  Along with his wife Carol, Mr. Hathaway manages a 10-year-old nonprofit organization, Solar Light for Africa, that installs solar power in rural villages across sub-Saharan Africa, bringing light, power and solar-pumped water to some of the poorest regions of the world.

An Evening With Boulder’s City Attorney, Tom Carr: Thursday, August 18th, at 6:30pm

Boulder City Attorney, Tom Carr, has supervised the many steps in the process of clarifying and determining Boulder’s Clean Energy Future. On Thursday, August 18th, at 6:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Boulder (1820 15th St. Boulder, CO 80302), he will share his personal perspectives on the historical nature of the upcoming municipalization ballot measure, as well as the important contents of the ballot language.

Tom Carr is the City Attorney and primary legal advisor to the City Council and City Manager. He manages the City Attorney’s Office staff and outside counsel arrangements and is responsible for prosecuting violations of city ordinances.
Tom provides the city with a broad range of legal services including litigation, contract and ordinance drafting, transactional work and administrative hearings. Presently his focus is on environmental, social, and regional growth issues.
From 2002 through 2009, Tom was the city attorney in Seattle, Washington, where he gained extensive experience dealing with issues similar to those faced byBoulder.  Serving as the general counsel and chief prosecutor for the 12th largest city in the United States, Tom managed a 90 attorney law office and provided legal advice and guidance to elected officials and city departments.  He brought a collaborative problem-solving approach to the task of addressing public safety and community issues by building partnerships with courts, other prosecutors, social service providers and community leaders.
Prior to serving as Seattle City Attorney, Tom was a partner is a Seattle law firm specializing in commercial litigation.  From 1986 through 1990, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, specializing in organized crime civil RICO cases.
Tom earned a sociology degree from St. John’s University and his law degree fromNew York Law School, where he served as Research and Articles editor on the Law Review, on the Moot Court Board and as part of the National Moot Court team.

Boulder’s Clean Energy Vision

Posted by Amy Guinan

At a recent Clean Energy Action community event, Boulder citizens were asked what they hoped for their energy future. Clean Energy Action is using these community clean energy visions  to help drive our organizational work at a local and state level – we hope you enjoy these visionary ideas.

Recommendations include:

  • Accelerate the closure of the Valmont Coal Plant
  • Increased Solar Thermal heating and cooling available for residential and commercial establishments
  • Solar Gardens accessible to all who need them
  • A functional smart grid with accessible data at the residential level
  • Help educate additional states on coal supply constraints
  • Financial tools that entice large investments in clean energy
  • More citizen outreach to neighbor and friends’ about clean energy and coal supply constraints
  • No gas tax for electric vehicles
  • Support Jamestown municipalization efforts
  • Work towards carbon negativity with efforts such as biochar
  • Increase local Photovoltaics on rooftops and public buildings
  • Emphasize Demand Side Management of electricity
  • Make Feed In Tariffs available to drive clean energy development in Colorado
  • Form a local Boulder-owned credit union
Photo courtesy of dgrinbergs

Xcel’s 2011 Wind Bid Analysis–Wind Reduces System Costs Even Without CO2 Costs

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom

In 2009 Xcel’s modeling showed that adding renewable energy to their system would lower system costs when a cost for CO2 emissions was added for fossil fuel resources.

Now, in the (attached) modeling results received from Xcel, the three most competitive wind bids received in January 2011 and discussed in the attached Xcel Bid Report, will lower Xcel’s system costs in Colorado–even without including a cost for CO2 emissions. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that this has been shown in Colorado.

The key spreadsheet showing this is LWG 2-1.Al. xls. The question asked can be found in the 10A-377E LWG 2 document. The fact that no cost on CO2 was included is found in footnote 3 on page 15 of the Xcel witness Kurt Haeger’s Rebuttal testimony which is also attached.

Under the assumptions tab in the spreadsheet, note that the cost of coal is assumed to stay essentially flat for the next 30 years, despite the fact that Xcel’s coal costs have been going up about 10% a year for the last several years….A more reasonable assumption about future coal costs would also help improve the modeling results for renewable resources. Similarly, if the actual cost of natural gas is higher than the projections shown, then the wind will save ratepayers more money. The natural gas cost projections are some of the lowest used by Xcel in recent years so it seems unlikely that natural gas costs will drop lower than the projections–but only time will tell.

The wind modeling results (which include the Production Tax Credit for wind), show what we have all been waiting for, which is that renewable energy sources can increasingly be justified on price alone–even without consideration of CO2 and other external costs. This bodes well for efforts to include more renewable energy in the future.

Attachment Size
2011 Wind RFP Bid Evaluation Report   1.8 MB
Attachment LWG2-1.A1   41 KB
10A-377E Haeger Rebuttal   512 KB
10A-377E LWG2   61 KB
Photo courtesy of martinpro

Colorado Coal Plants–$380 Million in Pollution Control for the Aging Pawnee and Hayden Coal Plants

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom

Colorado’s “Clean Air Clean Jobs” coal plant retirement/retrofitting docket at the Public Utilities Commission (Docket 10M-245E) has led to plans to retire most of Xcel’s coal plants in the Denver metro area. This is an important step forward in the process of modernizing Xcel’s generation system and supporting the addition of more renewable energy in the coming years and decades.

Unfortunately, Xcel “slipped” in the addition of expensive pollution controls to the Hayden coal plants (west of Steamboat Springs) and the “Pawnee” coal plant (in Brush, northeast of Denver.) The polllution controls would cost about $380 million and would extend the lives of the coal plants until 2025 and beyond.

The “Pawnee” and Hayden coal plants–along with the newly built and retrofitted “Comanche” plants in Pueblo– are the last coal plants on Xcel’s Colorado system.

If Xcel proceeds with the pollution controls on “Pawnee” and Hayden, then it becomes more difficult to advocate for the retirement of these coal plants and there will not be a way to get significant CO2 reductions from Xcel’s Colorado system for many years.

The details on the proposed pollution controls are summarized here:

  • Hayden 1 is a 45-year-old coal plant worth about $32 million to Xcel. Adding selective catalytic reduction for nitrogen oxide control is expected to cost about $67 million, or more than twice the existing value of the coal plant. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate Hayden 1 until 2025.
  • Hayden 2 is a 34-year-old coal plant worth about $28 million. The SCR pollution controls would cost about $80 million. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate Hayden 2 until 2036.
  • Pawnee is a 29-year-old coal plant worth about $238 million. The proposed pollution controls for nitrogen, sulfur and mercury are expected to cost about $236 million. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate the “Pawnee” coal plant until 2041.

None of the pollution controls will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas.

Colorado PUC Decision C10-1328 in the Clean Air Clean Jobs docket is attached below along with the “RRR” (Application for Rehearing, Reargument or Reconsideration–i.e. appeal) from Leslie Glustrom questioning the wisdom of these pollution controls.

Colorado citizens will continue to question whether retirement is not the better option for these aging coal plants in order to transition to truly clean generation that begins to stabilize electric utility rates.

Photo courtesy of dgrinbergs

Attachment Size
Decision No. C10-1328 Docket No. 10M-245E Final Order 463 KB
Docket No. 10M-245E Glustrom Rehearing Reargument or Reconsideration of C10-1328 745 KB