BROOMFIELD – Today, clean energy advocates toured wind farms across northern Colorado by plane, discussing the benefits of doubling Colorado’s renewable energy standard to 20% by 2020.
Energy developers, advocates, and congressional staff gathered for a press briefing at Jefferson County Airport before flying out to the Ponnequin, Spring Canyon and Peetz wind farms in northeastern Colorado. The tour was conducted by Mike Bowman, farmer from Wray, Colorado and steering committee chair of 25 x ’25, a national clean energy advocacy group for rural America.
“I’m excited about rural Colorado’s opportunity to participate in a New Energy Economy,” said Bowman. “Doubling our use of clean, homegrown energy will bring jobs and increase economic stability to the many hundreds of small communities across our great state.”
The aerial tour comes while the state legislature is poised to consider a bill to double Colorado’s use of renewable energy for electricity to 20% by 2020. The bill would continue the economic boon to Colorado’s rural economies that began under Amendment 37, a 2004 voter-approved renewable energy standard of 10%.
Colorado has seen increasing investment in renewable energy technologies since Amendment 37. In recent weeks, local media have reported that Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems intends to build Colorado’s first-ever wind turbine construction facility outside of Windsor.
Chicago-based Invenergy has played an important role in developing some of Colorado’s best wind plants, including SpringCanyon and the expansion of the Peetz wind farm. Doug Carter, VP of Business Development for Invenergy’s Western Region office in Littleton, has been involved first-hand on both of these projects.
“Colorado is on the right path for becoming the nation’s epicenter for clean energy development,” said Carter. “Doubling the renewable energy standard to 20 percent means our company can put more people to work and provide more clean power”
“Our work in northeastern Colorado is a testament to what we can achieve if Colorado puts our technological know-how and resources to work,” continued Carter.
Doubling Colorado’s renewable energy standard to 20% by 2020 is expected to bring thousands of 1 year construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs for the maintenance and operation of wind farms in Colorado. In addition to good jobs and clean energy, doubling the renewable energy standard is expected to provide other benefits to consumers and increase energy security.
“Wind power has already saved customers over $14 million in just two years because the price of wind isn’t subject to the same price spikes as fossil fuels,” said Craig Cox, Executive Director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a nonprofit trade association representing the nation’s leading companies in the wind industry.
“Wind power increases our energy security by providing stable rates and homegrown power,” continued Cox. “With the eleventh best wind resources in the nation, we have only just begun to tap Colorado’s enormous potential.”
“We can and should continue our investment in Colorado’s New Energy Economy by at least doubling our use of renewable energy by 2020,” concluded Cox.
The aerial tour also passed over two coal-fired power plants, Rawhide Energy Station and Pawnee Energy Station. These two plants are among the states worst mercury polluters, an issue the Air Quality Control Commission is currently tackling. Coal fired power plants also consume billions of gallons of water each year and are the largest source of global warming pollution in Colorado.
"The environmental benefits of renewable energy from reducing global warming pollution to conserving water are well known, said Garrington. ”This tour is about showing what renewable energy development means for Colorado's rural economies.”
Environment Colorado organized the aerial tour, and Bruce Gordon of the Aspen-based nonprofit organization EcoFlight was the pilot and provided the plane.