Governor’s Energy Office releases report detailing Colorado’s 65 gas and electric utilities

Submitted by amyguinan on August 19, 2010 – 9:48am

The Governor’s Energy Office released their 2010 Colorado Utilities Report, a first-of-its-kind document, that compiles key utility data collected from the utilities themselves, federal agencies and regulatory authorities, and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission into one document.

The report includes profiles of the 65 Colorado gas and electric utilities complete with a breakdown of their generation fuel mix, rate information, policy perspectives towards climate change, and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Furthermore, the report explains the three main categories of electric utilities in the state – investor-owned, municipal and rural electric cooperatives.

The report joins a series of GEO reports providing first-time compilations of information critical to understanding energy to ensure Colorado meets Gov. Bill Ritter’s Climate Action Plan.

National Academy of Science Underscore Seriousness of Climate Change

As the heat of the summer is upon us and if you are wondering if it is truly getting hotter or if this is just natural variability, yet another summary of the science reminds us that climate change is real, that it is caused largely by our emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and that the risks to societies and ecosystems are significant.

The recent report by the National Academy of Sciences entitled America’s Climate Choices summarized the science on climate change and once again concluded that

A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.

The reports on America’s Climate Choices can be accessed here.

For those giving talks or writing papers on climate science, the chapters have many useful figures that can be copied and incorporated into presentations. Here are a few chapters that I’ve used:

Chapter 2–What We Know

Chapter 6-Changes in the Climate System

Chapter 7–Sea Level Rise

Chapter 9–Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Chapter 10–Agriculture and Food Production

Chapter 11–Public Health

The news is serious indeed. The technology exists for reducing our CO2 emissions. All that is needed is the continued strengthening of our resolve to move quickly.

Increasing Levels of Renewable Energy Possible–Levels Above 30% Now Being Considered

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom on July 15, 2010 – 7:57pm

As Colorado and other states increase the levels of renewable energy on their system, it raises the question of how much renewable energy can be accomodated on the grid given issues of variability and uncertainty. A recent detailed analysis gives an optimistic answer and outlines what needs to be done.

After two and a half years of study, a large team of researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden along with other utilities and industry experts, released the long-awaited Western Wind and Solar Integration Study which concluded that for a group of Western utilities known as “West Connect” it is possible to accomodate up to 30% wind and 5% solar energy if additional efforts are made to increase the level of cooperation between what are known as balancing areas and to incorporate state of the art forecasts and other tools that will allow the grid to respond as renewable energy increasingly displaces fossil fuel generation.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Studies can be accessed here. The Executive Summary is attached below.

Feed In Tariffs–Germany Shows They Work; California Study Underscores the Promise

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom on July 15, 2010 – 6:58pm

Feed In Tariffs are the policy that Germany has used to drive a very robust wind and solar market in a country that has very little sunshine! Now over 60 countries are proceeding with Feed in Tariff policies and these are leading to almost miraculous levels of renewable energy installations and investments.

The name derives from the “tariff” or rate that is paid for small generators to “feed-in” renewable energy to the grid. The development of Feed In Tariff or FIT policy has allowed the development of renewable energy to become a business proposition–instead of just a desire to do what is right.

Wind pioneer Paul Gipe has followed the development of FIT policies around the world and keeps an excellent catalogue of developments on his website at http://www.wind-works.org/articles/feed_laws.html.

One article on Paul Gipe’s website notes that using FIT policy, Germany installed more solar photovoltaic systems in the first quarter of 2010 (714MW)than the United States installed in all of 2009 (approx 435 MW)! That is just one of the examples of the power of FIT policy. Go here to read the details.

Also, on July 7, 2010 a study from Daniel Kammen’s group at the University of California-Berkeley underscored the benefits that a FIT policy for California would have–for meeting the Renewable Portfolio Standard, for creating jobs, for increasing state revenues and for stimulating new economic development. Read the summary of the California study here.

Information on FITs can also be found on the website of the Alliance for Renewable Energy.

In Colorado, a group has begun discussing the development of FIT policies for Colorado, holding meetings, workshops and posting key studies. Workshops on Feed In Tariffs are being hosted by Community in Power. An evening talk and all day workshop are scheduled for July 21-22, 2010 in Boulder and should be very informative. Your attendance is encouraged, or if you can’t make it (as I can not) then try reading some of the articles at the above links. They will make you smile–and perhaps drool…:)

Decarbonization for Boulder-Is It Feasible?

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom on May 11, 2010 – 10:39pm

What is meant by decarbonization and could Boulder actually do it?

Decarbonization is a relatively recent term that in this case refers to reducing the carbon content of Boulder’s energy, starting with electricity as the first step. The second step would be to decarbonize the transportation system by moving to electric powered vehicles using the highest level of renewable energy possible. After that, there will be many steps to full decarbonization, but as with any large project, the way to begin is to take the first step–which in this case is decarbonization of the electric supply.

According to the City of Boulder’s Climate Action Plan, about 57% of the City’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions can be attributed to electricity use–with 46% of that being for the commerical and industrial sectors and 11% with the residential sector. By lowering the carbon content of Boulder’s electric supply–or “decarbonizing,” significant reductions can be made in greenhouse gas emissions.

A group of citizens with representation from a number of community groups has suggested that Boulder set a goal of 30% decarbonization by 2012 and 80-100% decarbonization of the electric supply by 2020. There is also a team of people working with the City Staff as the “Decarbonization Tech Team” to explore these possibilities.

Reproduced below is a summary sheet addressing the feasibility of decarbonizing Boulder’s electric supply.

*********************

Stepwise Decarbonization–Is it Feasible??

References available from Leslie Glustrom 303-245-8637 lglustrom at gmail.com
Version 1.1 April 30, 2010

Colorado Has Abundant Wind and Solar Resources

Colorado has over 20 times the amount of wind and solar potential needed to power the state, according to analyses done by the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Governor’s Energy Office.(1) In addition, Colorado has significant methane, biomass, geothermal, efficiency and waste-to-energy resources available for potential development.

Colorado Has Thousands of MW of “Wrench Ready” Clean Energy Projects

In April 2009, Xcel (in Colorado) received over 15,000 MW of wind, solar and other renewable energy bids. (2)

Xcel was looking for about 1,000 MW and so will leave approximately 14,000 MW of clean energy projects sitting in notebooks. Bids submitted to Xcel needed to be fully engineered and to show access to the land, the wind turbines or solar panels, the ability to finance and permit the project and a method of transmitting the electricity to market.  

Thousands of MW of Clean Energy Projects Could be Built in 2011-2012

Of the bids submitted to Xcel Energy in Colorado in April 2009, over 6,000 MW of wind and over 1,000 MW of solar was proposed for development in 2011 and 2012. Clearly, these are “wrench ready” bids. (3)

Modeling Analyses Indicate that Renewable Energy Is Now Cost Competitive

Adding more renewable energy to Xcel’s system is likely to drive system costs down, not up according to Xcel’s modeling of the bids it received using the assumptions approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. As the costs of fossil fuels rise and as efforts to address pollution from fossil fuel burning increase, the costs of operating fossil fuel generating resources mounts while the costs of renewable energy resources fall. This means that shifting to renewable energy can not only be cleaner, it can help reduce the cost of electricity in the 21st century. (4)

Setting “Stretch” Goals Drives Innovation and Economic Success

The entire history of human civilization is driven by the setting of “stretch” goals—and the individuals, companies and countries that set those goals and meet them invariably profit tremendously. China has strong clean energy goals. The United States is caught in policy gridlock in Washington DC. Every utility in the United States will need to decarbonize in the next 1-2 decades. Either our country will fall into mass chaos or the companies and communities that foresee this need and align themselves according will profit immensely from this need. Will this be Boulder or some other community?

Is There an Electric Provider Willing to Partner withBoulder in Meeting These Decarbonization Goals?

At the present time, it is unclear whether Boulder’s present electricity provider, Xcel Energy, is willing to partner with Boulder in meeting the decarbonization goals that are needed to address climate change, drive economic development and avoid fossil-fuel driven utility rate increases. If Xcel Energy does not want to become a willing partner in this effort, citizens will suggest that it is time to find a new electricity provider and not renew the Xcel franchise agreement that expires in late 2010.

References on the reverse side.

References for Stepwise Decarbonization—Is It Feasible  v 1.1 2010-04-30

1) Information on Colorado’s potential for wind and solar can be found in the Governor’s Energy Office report, Connecting Colorado’s Renewable Resources to the Markets, available at http://www.energy.ca.gov/reti/documents/2007-12-21_CO_%20SB91_Task_Force_Report.pdf . Information on the 96 GW of wind potential in Colorado is on pages 8-11. Information on the over 200 GW of Concentrating Solar Power potential is on pages 12-15 and 63 and 64. See especially the bullets at the bottom of page 64. Colorado’s peak electric demand is presently under 12 GW.

2) Information on the 15,000 MW of clean energy bids submitted to Xcel in April 2009 can be found in the “30 Day Report” (submitted May 2009) and the “120 Day Report” (submitted August 2009) to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in Docket 07A-447E, the 2007 Resource Plan. The reports can be downloaded fromhttps://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/efi/EFI.Show_Docket?p_session_id=&p_docket_id=07A-447E .

3) For the information on bids ready for development in 2011 and 2012, see pages 4 and 5 in the 30 Day Report submitted in May 2009 in the 07A-447E Resource Plan Docket. The report can be downloaded from https://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/efi/EFI.Show_Docket?p_session_id=&p_docket_id=07A-447E.

4) Information on Xcel’s modeling of the April 2009 bids can be found in Figures 15 and 16 in the “120 Day Report” submitted in August 2009 to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission  in the 07A-447E Docket. The report can be downloaded from

https://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/efi/EFI.Show_Docket?p_session_id=&p_docket_id=07A-447E .

Further information and references available from

Leslie Glustrom at lglustrom at gmail.com or 303-245-8637.

Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy