Tag Archives: Colorado

Exploring a Carbon Price for Colorado

In May of 2013 I gave a talk at Clean Energy Action’s Global Warming Solutions Speaker Series in Boulder, on how we might structure a carbon pricing scheme in Colorado. You can also download a PDF of the slides and watch an edited version of that presentation via YouTube:

The short policy overview:

  • We should begin levying a modest carbon tax, in the range of $5 to $25/ton of CO2e.
  • The tax must be applied to the fossil fuels used in electricity generation (coal and natural gas). Ideally it should also be applied to gasoline, diesel, natural gas used outside the power sector, and fugitive methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, but those are less important for the moment.
  • New electricity generation resources must be allowed to compete economically with the operation of existing carbon-intensive facilities, and fuel costs must not be blindly passed through to consumers without either rigorous regulatory oversight, or utilities sharing fuel price risk.
  • Carbon tax revenues should be spent on emissions mitigation, providing reliable, low-cost financing for energy efficiency measures and a standard-offer contract with modest performance-based returns for new renewable generation.
  • Over time the carbon price should be increased and applied uniformly across all segments of the economy, with the eventual integration of  consumption based emissions footprinting for imported goods.

But wait… I can hear you saying, I thought James Hansen and others  were rallying support for a revenue neutral carbon tax proposal?  Even the arch-conservative American Enterprise Institute was looking into it, weren’t they?

A carbon price alone is not enough to get the job done — there are other pieces of our energy markets that also have to be fixed to get us to carbon zero.

Continue reading Exploring a Carbon Price for Colorado

The “Dazzling Dozen” Lead the Way in Solar Installation

Cover page of Environment America Research and Policy Center's Report "Lighting the Way: What We can Learn from America's Top Twelve Solar States." Picture of a solar panel array with a partially cloudy sky and the sun.

The “Dazzling Dozen” is not just a clever name for the twelve states that are leading the way in solar photovoltaic installations; they are an example to be followed in the move from fossil fuels towards a renewable energy utility of the future. On July 23rd, 2013, Environment America Research and Policy Center released a report, “Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States,” describing the benefits of solar energy and some of the related policies.

The Dazzling Dozen are ranked by the highest per capita solar electricity capacity, and include the states of Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland. Arizona ranked first, producing 167 Watts per person of solar electricity, while Colorado ranked eighth, producing 52 Watts per person. These twelve states account for only 28% of the population, but 85% of installed solar photovoltaic systems in the United States. Continue reading The “Dazzling Dozen” Lead the Way in Solar Installation

Colorado at the Forefront of Renewables

JanieHernandez
Photo by Janie Hernandez

On June 6th, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 13-252, making it a day to be celebrated by all who are interested in furthering renewable energy sources in Colorado. As stated in the article by EcoWatch, the new bill will increase “Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard for co-operative associations that provide wholesale electricity in the state, and for large electric associations that provide service to at least 100,000 customers. The bill doubles the amount of renewable energy these utilities must provide to 20 percent (from 10 percent) by 2020, while capping cost increases at two percent.” Bill 252 will not only add renewable energy to the grid, but it will increase the number of jobs and renewable energy projects in rural Colorado, as well as lead to clean, renewable energy investments.

Xcel Energy is also realizing the benefit of investing in renewable energy sources, and not just because of the bill. As of February 2013, Xcel proposed to add 550 Megawatts of wind energy to the grid, primarily because of the cost savings. According to an article in the Denver Post, “Xcel’s average purchase cost for wind since 2007 has been $42.16 a megawatt-hour,” while “the cost of electricity from a new conventional combined-cycle natural-gas plant is about $68.60 a megawatt-hour.” Based on these numbers, Xcel will be saving $26.42 per megawatt-hour by using wind power instead.