Tag Archives: climate

Community Choice Aggregation: A Legislative Path to Energy Freedom

Community Choice Aggregation is an energy freedom program that permits a community to directly access the competitive market to procure power from the energy supplier they choose. This is in contrast to much of Colorado’s current situation in which a monopoly utility (in Boulder this is Xcel) is granted exclusive rights as a region’s energy supplier by the state. The benefits of a free energy market are many; competitive markets can lead to lower rates, the ability to choose sustainably generated power, and the ability to invest in local solutions which create jobs and keeps money in the local economy. CEA endorses policies for energy freedom, and fortunately, local legislators and non-profits like Energy Freedom Colorado are working to make a path to energy freedom for Colorado.

To give you a better understanding of how it works, let’s begin with the power grid. The three main components of a power grid are energy generation, transmission (of electricity over long distances from power plants to local substations), and distribution (of electricity from a substation to the consumer). Community choice aggregation (CCA) is a cooperation between municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities (IOU) in which the municipal CCA purchases power independently, but the transmission, distribution, and customer interface are maintained by the local IOU as shown below. CCAs served about 3.3 million people in 2016 and are growing rapidly in the eight states where they have been legalized, allowing municipalities in these states to choose their power sources in a way that reflects the values of their community, which include factors like cost, environmental impact, and supporting local energy businesses.

Graphic from National Renewable Energy Labs website

To implement CCA in Colorado, our legislature would need to enact CCA legislation, and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) would need to adopt corresponding rules and regulations. Several structural aspects of Colorado’s electricity grid could make this process more complicated than it has been for other states. For example, most states with CCA had already restructured their IOU to make separate companies for power generation and delivery, which simplifies the process of transitioning to municipally controlled power generation. Further, Colorado is not part of a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), which is an independent, non-profit operator of a large, integrated transmission grid. Instead, each region’s transmission lines are controlled by the local utility, which complicates the task of transporting power from the generation site across a number of independently owned transmission systems to the municipality. Despite the challenges, we can overcome these obstacles and make the change. If you would like to learn more or help move Colorado forward, here are some links for you:

For general background information:
NREL: https://www.nrel.gov/state-local-tribal/blog/posts/community-choice-aggregation-cca-helping-communities-reach-renewable-energy-goals.html
LEAN: http://leanenergyus.org/cca-by-state/
EPA: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/community-choice-aggregation

For Colorado specific information and/or to get involved in Colorado’s policy efforts:
EFC: http://energyfreedomco.org/

What We Are Watching: Atmospheric Trust Doctrine in the 9th Circuit

Three judges in the 9th Circuit are poised to rule on the leading question in environmental litigation: the legal right to a livable climate. 

Unlike the early decades of U.S. climate action, which focused on legislation and federal agencies, environmental advocates in recent years have increasingly had to rely on states and the courts to demand progress. The 2005 court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA recognized that sea level rise injures coastal states and required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses as pollutants. More recently, cities like New York and Boulder filed suit against Exxon Mobil for their role in the climate crisis. In 2015, youth petitioners brought what may become the flagship climate case of our time against the President and government of the United States. Juliana v. United States alleges that government inaction is denying young people their right to an inhabitable planet. Juliana relies on a long history of public trust doctrine that requires the state to responsibly manage resources held in trust for the public, and advances a new field of “atmospheric trust” litigation. Colorado-based youth climate organization and CEA ally Earth Guardians is a lead plaintiff in the case. 

Thus far, the government has filed numerous procedural challenges seeking to have the District Court throw out the case, or for higher courts to intervene. The case has cleared most of these procedural roadblocks, and the higher courts, although expressing some skepticism about its overall viability, have allowed the case to proceed. 

Most recently, the government filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit to review the plaintiffs’ standing to bring a case. The question of standing often determines the fate of environmental litigation. For example, one of the key hurdles states cleared in Massachusetts v. EPA  was the lack of direct injury due to the small amount of state-owned land that would be affected (the Supreme Court ultimately found that climate change represented a sufficient threat to state sovereignty to give them a claim to injury). In this case, the question of standing challenges the core of atmospheric trust doctrine as the basis for a legal claim. Oral arguments were heard on June 4th

Now the nation and the world waits to see whether the 9th Circuit will allow the case to proceed to trial by affirming Judge Aiken’s conclusion that the youth of this country have a cognizable legal right to a climate capable of sustaining human life.

Further reading: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2954661

People’s Climate March on Denver: Get Involved Today

Tell our elected officials that the environment matters! April 29th, 2017 is the 100th day of President Donald Trump’s administration.  Clean Energy Action is marking the day by joining with the People’s Climate of Colorado and countless other groups in a huge demonstration to highlight our recognition that climate change is real, that it impacts all of us, and that we are committed to solving it.

The PCM in Denver, along with other sister city marches, is happening simultaneously to the People’s Climate March in Washington. Like the Women’s March, the PCM will be a national show of resistance, resolve, and unity.

There are many ways to show your support for our planet:

  • Planning to attend? RSVP on Facebook, sign up on Action Network,  and tell your friends and family.
  • Want to get more involved? Take this survey in order to register to be trained as an PCM Marshal, or check out these planning meetings in Denver and Boulder, and help us make sure the event is a great success!
  • The Climate March also needs financial support. Make a donation or purchase one of these awesome T-shirts, and put your dollars to work in defense of our environment.
  • You can also be a #climatehero and help spread the word on Facebook and twitter:  #peoplesclimatemarch #denverclimatemarch

Hope to see you there!

CEA Releases Annual Report, Celebrates a Decade of Speaking Truth to Power

The end of 2015 represents an important milestone for Clean Energy Action. Founded in 2005 to oppose the construction of Colorado’s last coal-fired power plant, Comanche 3, we are proud of the organization that has evolved over a decade of powerful action and catalytic research on behalf of our climate.

As we celebrate a decade of speaking truth to power, this report focuses on CEA’s most significant achievements with an emphasis on the last two years.

View the Report Now

Even as we pause to reflect on these accomplishments, we cannot ignore the growing urgency of the climate crisis nor can we forget the widespread damage our changing climate has already inflicted.

While we have been able to accomplish a great deal with very little thus far, even greater change is needed. We need to continue to grow our revenue and expand our appeal in order to hire new staff, deepen our research and multiply our impact. We look to you for continued and generous support – together we can accelerate the pace of change in this next, most pivotal decade.

View the Report Here

Community Energy Fair: Speaker Lineup Announced!

2015 Community Energy Fair ̶ Picnic Table Talks

Saturday June 20, 2015 

10 am- 4 pm 

Join the event on Facebook!

We’re excited to announce our speaker lineup for the 2015 Community Energy Fair! Picnic Table Talks will be about 15-20 minutes with time for Question and Answer afterwards.

10:30 am—Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Part I ̶ Dan MacDonald

CCL is a non-partisan organization that trains everyday citizens to help build the political will for a livable world by reflecting the true cost of carbon-based fuels via a revenue neutral carbon fee that is returned as a household dividend. Learn how you can help.

11 am—Triumph of the Sun! ̶ Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions

Hunter Lovins, an attorney, teacher and world-famous leader in the sustainability and clean energy movements, brings good news from around the world and shows us why what Boulder is doing is important.

12 pm—Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Part II ̶ Tim Bailey and Tim Wagner

CCL is a national organization that exists to empower citizens to help our country make policies that will address Climate Change. CCL is rapidly gaining momentum across the US. CCL works to shift us off carbon-based fuels and save us money all at the same time.

12:30 pm—How One Citizen Helped Move the Climate Conversation ̶ Julie Zahniser

When Julie Zahniser, a speech pathologist, parent and outdoor enthusiast, wanted to help address climate change issues, she found opportunities right here in Boulder through Clean Energy Action and Boulder’s clean energy campaigns. You can help, too!

1 pm—The Science of Climate Change ̶ Why It is Serious and What We Can Do About It—Chuck Kutscher, PhD

Chuck Kutscher is a dynamic speaker who has been leading many of the National Renewable Energy Lab’s most effective programs for over 30 years and has been Chair of the American Solar Energy Society. Don’t miss Chuck’s inspiring presentation!

2 pm—100% Renewable Energy ̶ Yes We Can!  Ken Regelson, EnergyShouldBe.org

Ken Regelson has helped move energy policy in Colorado for the last decade. He is an electrical engineer, founder of EnergyShouldBe.org and an expert on the real potential of transitioning to Renewable Energy. His talks always have a fun surprise element.

3 pm—Standing Up for Solar Rights in Colorado—Jessica Scott, Vote Solar

Jessica Scott moved from serving Denver to working in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona to make solar a mainstream energy resource. Jessica is an advocate for Vote Solar whose mission says, “The sun got up this morning ready to help, did you?”

3:30 pm—The US Coal Industry is in Dire Straits and I’m Terrified—Huh?? Leslie Glustrom, ̶Clean Energy Action

Co-founder of Clean Energy Action, Leslie Glustrom is one of the nation’s coal industry experts. She has worked tirelessly to build Beyond Coal campaigns in Colorado and the US, but now she is concerned about the rapid US coal industry demise! Come learn why.