The effort to decarbonize Colorado’s largest electricity supplier, Xcel Energy, advanced in Denver last month as Coloradans lined up to speak at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission hearing on Xcel’s 2016 Electric Resource Plan. Members of CEA led Coloradans from all walks of life in voicing their concerns about Colorado’s electricity future.
The hearing room at the Public Utilities Commission was overflowing as the people of Colorado addressed the three PUC Commissioners. They expressed a host of concerns about Xcel’s plan, and asked for more focus on the abundance of cost-effective renewable energy available in Colorado, in accordance with Colorado’s laws and regulations.
Consider climate change and the urgency of reducing carbon emissions
Increase the reliance on renewable energy in order to reduce both emissions and costs
Accelerate the adoption of storage technologies to support the integration of higher levels of renewable energy
Begin contingency planning in the event of future coal bankruptcies and potential coal supply constraints
Allow new, cleaner resources to replace energy generation from older, dirtier, more expensive fossil fuel resources
Citizen witnesses also discussed the need to analyze the choices between renewable energy (with no future fuel costs) and fossil fuel resources (with billions of dollars of future fuel costs) using lower discount rates. A lower discount rate will show increased savings from cost-effective renewable energy because future fuel costs won’t be so heavily discounted.
More details on Xcel’s Electric Resource Plan and the key issues, including the importance of the choice of discount rate, are available in the public comment filing made by Clean Energy Action Board member Leslie Glustrom.
CEA is grateful that the new appointees to the Colorado PUC , Chairperson Jeff Ackerman and Commissioner Wendy Moser, along with Commissioner Frances Koncilja, are dedicated to hearing from the public and that the public is well enough informed to provide useful and compelling testimony!
You can also check out Christi Turner’s comprehensive article in Boulder Weekly and learn more about this important step froward in the fight for cheaper, cleaner power.
Note that all sponsors of CEA’s 2015 Community Energy Fair must be committed to maximizing energy conservation & efficiency, and achieving a renewable energy-dominated electricity system in Colorado no later than 2030.
A special thanks to our sponsors, Boulder Weekly and Boulderganic!
Update: We wanted to say thanks to everyone who donated to Clean Energy Action on Colorado Gives Day. We truly appreciate all of your support.
We will continue to be your voice and stand up for a stable climate. We know that we have a long way to go to get our energy system on track. There is a lot of work to do and we are doing our best to keep the conversation in Colorado focused on what would will take to rapidly shift to a clean, renewable energy society. To find out more about what we’ve been up to, see the two recent Clean Energy Action articles below.
Give Where You Live For Colorado Gives Day!
Thanks to everyone who contributed last year! Clean Energy Action was the recipient of a $5,000 1st Bank bonus due to your generosity. We are eligible again if we exceed last year’s commitments. Please be as generous as you can and we may receive an even larger bonus.
A recurring contribution set to begin on December 9th will help keep CEA healthy all year long and count toward a possible bonus. All transaction costs are covered by 1st Bank and other sponsors so that every dollar goes to our work.
We are still one of the only voices in Colorado advocating for shutting down our fossil fueled infrastructure once and for all. CEA tears down the pillars that support climate instability and builds up the pillars that support climate stability. We understand that there are both environmental and economic risks to continued fossil dependence. While many have championed the conversion of coal fired plants to gas as a result of 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs Act (CACJA), Clean Energy Action understands that statewide we have actually committed to increasing our overall emissions in Colorado when Xcel’s investments in new coal are included. These policies have allowed Xcel to add $1B in fossil (both gas and coal retrofits) infrastructure to its generation mix.
Our work this year to date:
Our small staff accomplishes incredible tasks thanks to your support, and our team of interns and volunteers multiply our efforts. Here is an overview of our work from 2014:
Our featured posts are now syndicated nationwide on The Energy Collective, including promotion to their over 45,000 followers on Twitter.
Our work on Xcel’s ongoing rate case (14AL-0660E) at the Colorado Public Utility Commission has revealed a trove of information:
We understand just how cheap Xcel’s fossil plants are compared to the fuel that they commit us to burning.
Xcel’s Colorado ratepayers spent ~$550M on fuel in 2013. About $370M of that was for coal — and as we’ve long pointed out… those coal costs are not decreasing!
The value of Xcel’s fossil power plants is $4B today ($2.9B of which is coal) and will increase to $5B as a result of CACJA cost recovery.
This means we spend more on fuel every 10 years than all the fossil plants are worth today. And for coal it’s more like every 8 years.
Through our Citizen Power program, CEA has communicated the truth of the fossil fuel cost pass through (aka the Electricity Commodity Adjustment or ECA) to hundreds of citizens and dozens of legislators.
Legislation to change this may be introduced, but the fossil lobby will fight hard for the status quo.
We created videos to make the wonky Electric Commodity Adjustment digestible.
Clean Energy Action has developed energy literacy in hundreds of students in Boulder County with our energy bike and related energy education program.
With your support, our work in 2015:
CEA will develop software to comb through FERC, EPA, EIA and other databases to facilitate local communities understanding the costs of fuel and plants in their own neighborhoods.
This data will lead others to close dirty fossil plants instead of paying for dirty fossil fuels.
Quickly shutting down fossil plants in every state faster than the Clean Power Plan could hope to achieve.
Clean Energy Action has been selected as energy educators for many political representatives in CO.
The economics of boom and bust fossil jobs will be easily contrasted with the lasting benefit of jobs repowering the grid.
We will drive understanding of the myriad risks of continued fossil dependence.
Xcel Colorado may submit a new decoupling proposal and CEA will be prepared to intervene to make certain it’s the best deal for a stable climate.
Xcel Colorado will submit their quadrennial Electric Resource Plan (ERP) in fall 2015.
Clean Energy Action will expose the folly of discounting future fossil fuel costs.
This will rapidly change the generation mix away from fossils toward fuel free renewables.
You give to Clean Energy Action because you know we’re effective. We don’t charge a membership fee and all of our events are free thanks to the community of support. Please keep giving where you live to keep us strong and viable. Your voice is amplified by CEA’s voice across Colorado and the nation.
Join CEA at Vine Street Pub in Denver for drinks, discussion and some live music from 6:30 to 9pm, Monday January 27th.
We’ll reintroduce the Utility Death Spiral, and talk about why century-old centralized monopoly utilities are failing to meet the challenge of climate change. We’ll also explore how utilities need to evolve if they’re going to successfully integrate efficiency, distributed generation, and demand side resources dispatched over a much smarter grid. Utilities are terrified of cheap distributed solar power, because it is poised to disrupt their century old monopoly business model. Come find out why the old way of generating electricity isn’t going to serve us well in the 21st century, and what might lie ahead.
And then, we’ll just hang out and continue the discussion face to face, with some local live music to set the mood.
A rough program:
6:30 – 7:00pm — Set-up and Mingling. Get a drink.
7:00 – 7:30pm — Short presentation by CEA’s Research Director, Zane Selvans.
7:30 – 8:00pm — Q&A and structured discussion
8:00 – 9:00pm — Free form socializing and discussion. (And maybe another drink…)
If you want to get the most out of the evening, we highly recommend Utilities for Dummies, a blog post series by our friend Dave Roberts at Grist.
Please register through Eventbrite here. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and we need an accurate count of the number of people attending.Hope to see you there!
Conventional ways of thinking of renewable energy as too expensive or unreliable are old and outdated, according to Renewables 100, a nonprofit organization founded to study and advance the global transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future. This organization firmly believes that, “it is not a question of ‘if’ the 100% renewable energy future will become a reality; it is solely a question of ‘when’ and ‘how’.” Renewables 100 was the first to host an international conference in the United States that focused on 100 percent renewable energy targets and solutions. The Pathways to 100 Percent Renewable Energy Conference was held on April 16, 2013 in San Francisco and intended on providing the public with knowledge of renewable energies along with hope for a completely sustainable future.
At the conference there were various esteemed and influential speakers who discussed global warming, climate change, technology, policy and economics in relation to renewable energy systems. These speakers all put forth the compelling claim that entire towns, cities and countries could, and eventually will be, powered and run completely on renewable energies. They also helped to prove, by citing a number of recent authoritative energy studies, that the shift away from fossil fuels is technically and economically viable in today’s world. With current technologies, including photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines, biomass and hydropower, enough energy security can be provided to supply societies demands and more. These speakers have helped create a vision for the potential of renewable resources and illustrated it becoming a reality. Their research and presentations helped to educate the public and overcome some barriers found when transitioning to a renewable system.