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2007-08 CO Green Energy Legislation

I am working on a post about 2009 Colorado legislation dealing with green energy and our New Energy Economy.  To provide additional background on the post, I copied a list of bills from the past two years (provided by the state government).  That past legislation constitutes a pretty large list:

HB-07 1037 (Levy/Fitz-Gerald), Energy Efficiency Rebates for Consumers
HB-07 1060 (Riesberg/Shaffer), Bioscience Research Grantsl
HB-07 1087 (A. Kerr/Romer), Wind for Schools Grant Program
HB-071145 (Merrifield/Gordon) Renewable Energy Dev. on State Lands
HB-07 1146 (Levy/Gordon), Energy Conservation Building Codes
HB-07 1150 (C. Gardner/Kester), Clean Energy Authority
HB-07 1169 (Solano/Shaffer), Net Metering
HB-07 1203 (Fischer/Romer), Energy Management Conservation Studies
HB-07 1228 (C. Gardner/Shaffer), Renewable Fuel Crops
HB-07 1279 (McKinley/Romer), Tax Credits, Renewable Energy Machines
HB-07 1281 (Schwartz/Pommer & Witwer), Renewable Portfolio Standard
HB-07 1309 (Weissmann/Tupa), School Energy Efficiency
HB-07 1379 (Weissmann/Tupa), County Enviro. Sustainability Program
SB-07 51 (Gordon/Witwer), High Performance State Buildings
SB-07 91 (Schwartz/Massey), Renewable Resource Generation Areas
SB-07 100 (Fitz-Gerald/McFadyen ), Energy Transmission Development
SB-07 126 (Keller/Pommer), Funding for the Collaboratory
SB-07 145 (Tupa/Gibbs), Local Incentives for Renewable Energy
SB-07 246 (Fitz-Gerald/Buescher), Clean Energy Fund
HB-08 1160 (Solano/Shaffer & Isgar), Net Metering & Rural Electric Utilities
HB-08 1164 (Solano/Schwartz), “New Solar Energy Technologies”
HB-08 1207 (Kefalas/Bacon), Procure Environmentally Preferable Products
HB-08 1270 (A. Kerr/Tupa), CICs Allow Energy Efficiency Measures
HB-08 1350 (Madden/Romer) Financing Renewable Energy
HB-08 1368 (Buescher/Brophy), Tax Prop. Used to Prod. Renewable Energy
HB-08 1387 (Buescher/Veiga), Low-Income Energy Assistance Funding
SB-08 078 (Renfroe/Sonnenberg)
SB-08 081 (Schwartz/Madden), Renewable Energy Authority
SB-08 117 (S. Mitchell/McNulty), Limit Local Bldg. Permit Fee Solar Panels
SB-08 147 (Gordon/Hodge & Levy), Increase Energy Efficiency State Buildings
SB-08 184 (Romer/Levy), Colorado Clean Energy Finance Program
SB-08 186 (Johnson/Levy), Colorado Carbon Fund Special License Plates

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Gov. Ritter’s Busy ‘New Energy Economy’ Week

Last week, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter had a very busy week taking part in numerous ‘New Energy Economy’-related events.  They include:

A water purification plant in Pueblo, CO (The Water Company) announced an expansion last Monday.  140 new good paying jobs will be created.  How can such an expansion happen in such horrible economic times?  Taxes – the bane of the Cons’ existence:

The money comes from the city’s half-cent sales tax, collected especially for economic development projects that bring new revenue into the Pueblo area.

A 1/2 cent sales tax, in just this one instance, will create 140 high paying jobs in Pueblo.  That tax and those jobs are an investment in the community of Pueblo.  Cons would rather see that tax go away, and with it, this expansion and those jobs.

Ascent Solar announced it is moving its headquarters and manufacturing from Littleton to Thornton last Tuesday.  While the move will occur within Colorado, it will allow for expansion of thin-film solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing.  That expansion will generate up to 300 more good paying jobs.  Ascent will initially be able to produce panels that can generate 25 megawatts of energy per year.  By 2011, they expect to be able to manufacture 100 megawatts of solar energy producing panels per year.

An ongoing story in Colorado’s New Energy Economy, under Gov. Ritter’s leadership and vision, is that of Vestas Wind Systems.  Due to active outreach, Vestas decided to build a wind blade manufacturing plant near Winsor, CO.  The location is near railroad infrastructure, allowing delivery of wind blades to other areas around the country where wind farms are being constructed.  Due to further outreach by Gov. Ritter, Vestas decided to expand operations.  Along the way, Hexcel Corp. decided to build a new plant near the Vestas facilities.

While the fossil fuel drilling industry is closing drilling rigs around the Inter-mountain West as demand slacks off, demand for wind and solar energy continues to increasePlans for manufacturing are increasing in the renewable energy industry, not being scaled back.  Colorado’s Cons would have liked to keep all our financial incentive eggs in the fossil fuel drilling basket.  Thankfully, Gov. Ritter and thousands of other Coloradans saw the future more clearly.  Colorado’s economy would be suffering even more than it is if the Cons had had their way.

So it’s no mistake that on Wednesday of last week, Gov. Ritter joined Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess in formally breaking ground on two new Vestas Colorado wind manufacturing plants.  How does the Crown Prince view renewables?

Danish Crown Prince Frederik said Wednesday that expanding a country’s renewable energy sources and recovering from a recession don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  “Denmark is economically competitive not in spite of these efforts, but because of them,” he said at a Brighton plant groundbreaking for Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems.

Did you read that, Colorado Cons?  Denmark is economically competitive because they’ve invested in renewable energy sources.  It really shouldn’t be that shocking, but these kinds of events and statements need increased publicity to deliver their positive message.

The Post article has some important numbers:

The prince, his wife, Crown Princess Mary, and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter attended the ceremony for two parts plants by Vestas, which already has a blade-making plant in Windsor, about 50 miles north of Denver. More than 200 people work there and 650 are expected at full employment.

The company also is planning a 400-employee factory in Pueblo to build towers that support the turbines, which it has said would be the world’s largest such factory.

The two plants will employ about 1,350 people at full operation, expected next year. Ole Borup Jakobsen, president of Vestas Blades, said the plants’ annual production eventually will reach 2,000 blades and 1,400 nacelles, which are housings for the turbine’s generator, transformer and gearbox.

State officials said Vestas is spending about $290 million to build the two plants. The company will also locate an employee training and development division and a technology and production engineering office in Brighton.

I’ll add all this up: 650 + 400 + 1350 = 2,400 good paying Colorado jobs.  Those Colorado jobs will help generate renewable energy, which will reduce greenhouse gas pollution, which does cost us money – it just hasn’t been properly accounted for in the past.  $290 million spent in a state that is in a recession.  That’s not chump change.  That’s real money that will help provide a needed boost.  This article doesn’t go into how many more jobs will be created at the training or engineering offices.  It also doesn’t (because it can’t) provide information on other renewable energy companies moving operations to Colorado, employing more people and benefiting the state, just like Hexcel has done. How many other companies will follow suit? I look forward to finding out.

I will point out that the Cons are nowhere to be seen nor heard.  Gov. Ritter and many others are hard at work creating real jobs in Colorado at a time when we need them most.  These jobs will lay the foundation for the green-powered energy revolution that will come about.  Beholden to their failed ideology, the Cons are failing to be “bipartisan” or “moderate” in this case (among others).  I’ll remember that as the 2010 Governor race heats up.  We’re sure to hear the Cons complain about how partisan and extreme Democrats have been.  The corporate media will of course fail to point out the projection and hypocrisy of those comments, but I won’t.  Where is uber-Con Dick Wadhams?  Where is the “moderate” Scott McInnis?  Why are the Cons missing in this story and why isn’t the corporate media pointing it out?

Cross-posted at SquareState.


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Renewables For Schools Bill Unveiled in Colorado

From a Colorado House Press release issued last Thursday:

Representative Andy Kerr and Treasurer Cary Kennedy will present a new bill that combines two of the hottest issues at the legislature this year: education and the New Energy Economy.

House Bill 1312 creates an innovative program to provide schools access to clean energy with low- and no-interest loans. By producing energy on-site with wind and solar, schools can slash their utility bills, create a buffer against future energy price spikes, inform the next generation about next-generation technologies, and put more money toward educating our kids.

The “Renewables for Schools” bill provides schools access to renewable energy with low- and no-interest loans.  Immediately following the press conference, the House Education Committee will hear testimony and vote on the bill.

The bill was originally scheduled to be unveiled last Thursday.  With the March 2009 blizzard raging, it was postponed until Sunday and Monday: unveiled Sunday and introduced to the House Education Committee Monday.  The bill was approved by that committee by an 8-4 vote.  It now heads to the Appropriations Committee.


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Efficiency Standard Would Take Bite Out Of Higher Energy Costs

Reading about a national energy efficiency standard made me remember the full-page, color package of lies advertisement I wrote about just over a week ago.  A group spun efforts by Congress to consider reducing greenhouse pollution as a direct tax on the American people.  The pollution must be reduced – the sooner the better.  No matter the manner in which Congress works to introduce the first nationwide effort to reduct that pollution, for-profit energy corporations will do their best to pass on any new costs directly to consumers.  I suppose there is nothing intrinsically wrong with those costs being passed along – it’s the nature of corporations to do so, after all.  What I object to is the morality of doing so when easily implementable solutions are available to those corporations.  That’s where citizen activism comes in – if the corporations refuse to think outside their little box, other people can and will.

It would be relatively straightforward to alleviate cost increases to both energy providers and energy users.  How?  Implementation of Energy Efficiency Standards.  Renewable Energy Standards have been implemented in a number of states (Colorado was the first) and will be done nationally as well.  That’s only part of the energy equation.  Energy efficiency, as I’ve written before, provides a low-cost method of significantly reducing our energy requirements.  People can and have already done so in individual cases.  It’s time to direct energy providers to do the same on a much larger scale.  Imposing costs on greenhouse gas polluters merely introduces a situation in which it makes even more sense to implement Energy Efficiency Standards on a national-scale.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy provides the following argument for enacting a national-scale EES:

Currently, new conventional base-load production sources generate electricity at a rate between $0.073 and $0.135 per kilowatt-hour.  At a cost of $0.03 per kilowatt-hour saved, efficiency improvements are significantly less expensive than building new plants and power lines and burning more fuel.

More power is going to be requested by users in the future.  Efficiency technologies today can offset 85% of projected 2030 demand.  85% of projected demand could cost half or one-fourth as much as what energy corporations are going to want to charge Americans.  The potential savings are estimated at nearly $170 billion per year by 2020 if an EES is put in place.  Why wouldn’t we implement such a strategy?

Locally in Colorado, HB07-1146 was one of the first pieces of legislation to reflect the vision of Governor Ritter’s New Energy Economy.  Colorado is currently one of 18 states nationally to have adopted energy efficiency standards.  That effort would be strengthened by a national effort.  Implemening a national energy efficiency standard would improve the efficacy of a national renewable energy standard, something else Colorado has enacted.

Such an effort is underway:

The Campaign for an Energy-Efficient America supports a federal EERS, a target that would require utilities to reduce electricity demand by 15 percent and natural gas demand by 10 percent by 2020. This EERS is included in both House and Senate versions (H.R. 889 and S. 548) of the Save American Energy Act, introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).

I would really like to see this effort make its way through the Congress with a minimum of fuss or change.  The globe could use some relief from our greenhouse forcing.  Energy efficiency is a highly reachable method of doing that in the short term.  It would mean energy corporations would receive less money in the future than they would if their lies to Americans were to beat this effort back.  I don’t plan on letting that happen.  I want to save money in the future and save the climate now.

Cross-posted at SquareState.


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Morgan Carroll’s Op Ed: New Energy Economy

I got this via email and wanted to make it as visible as possible.  Morgan Carroll was a member of the Colorado House through this past session.  She won election to the Colorado State Senate in 2008.  She is a fighter for progressive causes and part of Colorado’s netroots community.  This op-ed is about spreading the benefits of the new energy economy to those who need it most: those who can least afford to pay for the large costs right now.  Rep. Carroll is all about finding and implementing pragmatic solutions to today’s problems.  These are some examples of that.

One of the key obstacles to leasing or monthly payment plans is preventing  third party ownership allowed for systems under 10kW (the size of a typical household system).  With this barrier removed there are several investors poised to invest in Colorado’s economy and help make the installation, equipment and maintenance affordable for the majority of Coloradans.

There are even ways to save money on bill payment assistance to include low-income financing arrangements as well to convert homes into solar or other renewable avenues.  We as a state and country spend hundreds of millions of dollars on bill payment assistance to help the low-income pay their utility bill.  Just in Colorado, one in five households request bill payment assistance.  Nationwide, the costs of this program have kept increasing with rising cost of energy.  One would think that we would create policies that would incentivize and promote programs that would reduce the need for bill payment assistance.

iCAST (International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology) initiated a program to provide free solar energy to 1,000 low-income families in Colorado.  Providing energy efficiency and solar solutions will reduce the utility bill for low-income families for the life of the installation (typically 30 years) and stop the annual bill payment assistance needed by these families.  It is a program that teaches folks how to fish rather than provide the annual fish allocation.  However, it will take not only a change of thinking but a change of policy to facilitate these longer-term cost-savings.

The capitol building now has solar panels, as does the governor’s residence.  Both installations will provide benefits far beyond the clean energy generated from the photovoltaic (PV) panels, including community awareness gained by Colorado residents on solar energy.  Colorado tax payer money was not spent on these installations because a third party investor stepped in to cover the costs. The investors made this purchase because they could recover the funds. Returns include a variety of rebates, incentives and federal tax credits. Unfortunately, a low-income family or organization is unable to avail of the same opportunity because they don’t have a tax liability to begin with nor can they monetize tax credits and depreciation allowances.

By keeping solar energy and other similar clean energy technologies out of the reach of regular or low-income families, we are implying that these technologies are only for the wealthy.  We CAN increase affordable choices and access to the renewable energy economy for all Coloradans — and create good jobs in the process.  We’ve challenged everyone to be part of the solution, now let’s make sure we can all afford to participate in the solution.

If we allow 3rd party ownership agreements in Colorado (leasing, lease-to-own) and encourage multiple financing options at affordable price-points for regular people, we can not only increase our energy independence and save money, but we can also trigger economic investment and jobs creation in Colorado.

Senator-Elect Morgan Carroll
Senate District 29 – Aurora


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Random News 6/24/08

Gov. Ritter announced a new statewide energy efficiency and conservation campaign yesterday. Entitled, “The New Energy Economy: Bringing It Home”, the campaign will consists of TV and radio spots that inform folks about simple, low-cost methods of saving money on energy. The methods include:

• “Turn it Down!” Install and use a programmable thermostat or adjust the temperature down when you aren’t at home. Programmable thermostats can save up to $150 a year in utility bills.
• “Unplug it!” Unplug electronics, such as cell phone chargers, when not in use, or install a power strip for controlling devices such as computers, TVs and entertainment systems. Seventy-five percent of electricity used by electronic devices is while the products are turned off.
• “Turn it Off” Turn off the lights when leaving a room and install energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard lights and last 10 times longer.
• “Take a Ride” Gov. Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper ask you to “Take a ride, share a ride, or ride.” Besides getting exercise, you can save money on gas and vehicle maintenance by riding a bike. Relax on the bus or catch up with friends when you carpool.

The first ad can be seen on Gov. Ritter’s Energy Office website.

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The League of Conservation Voters has a new ad about Bob “Big Oil” Schaffer’s connections to the oil and gas industry, including supporting multi-billion dollar corporate welfare.

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Republicans think Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truthis replete with fantastic prophesies of doom for the planet unless America immediately regresses to third-world squalor.” If delayers get their way, the costs of mitigating and adapting to climate change will be much, much greater than if we take decisive action right now. The same is true for all the problems we face. And yet all Republicans want to do about them is give away our money to the largest corporations. That isn’t ethical and it doesn’t solve our very real issues of the day. Just the opposite: it makes them worse.

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10 million homeowners now have mortgages that are worth more than their houses. Republican economic policies do not work.

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People across the country are getting their power shut off by energy companies because they’re falling behind on their bills.  They must all be dead-beats living off the government, right?  Actually, more and more are middle class: four-member households earning between $33,500 and $55,500 are increasingly affected.  See, when you have to choose between gas bills, food, and health care costs while your wages have stagnated, something has to give.  But rest easy because CEO compensation was up 25% again last year.


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Clean Energy Fund Grants

A short while back, Gov. Ritter’s Energy Office announced the recipients of the second round of “New Energy Economic Development (NEED)” grants. 13 entities were awarded $656,000 in funding. The group includes some pretty interesting projects and ideas. I’ve commented on some of them. The list:

• Bardwell Consulting of Denver received $25,000.00 for its OptiMiser program, which is a PC-based program that creates and evaluates a full range of near-optimal solutions for energy retrofits. The NEED grant will be used to complete and launch the distributable version of OptiMiser.

• Black Hawk Transportation Authority received $50,000.00 for a biodiesel processing facility that will process used cooking oil from area restaurants into biodiesel, and blend the produced fuel for B5-B20. The biodiesel will power the Black Hawk and Central City Tramway buses and municipal fleets.

• City and County of Denver received $60,000.00 to support the launch of Denver’s new green business program that will engage and educate businesses in energy efficiency and sustainable practices while providing a framework for regional action.

• Community Energy Systems of Crestone, received $24,170.00 for biomass thermal heating systems for the Homelake Veterans’ Home.

• Coolerado of Arvada, received $25,000 to build a solar powered, mobile, five-ton air conditioning system.

I’m not sure how a five-ton mobile solar powered air conditioning system is going to be used, but I do find the concept intriguing.

• Czero, Inc. of Fort Collins, received $67,500.00. They will partner with the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory and the College of Business at Colorado State University to develop a low cost hydraulic hybrid retrofit kit.

I like this one because it’s a small (seemingly) business partnering with an educational facility. More of this, please.

• Denver Zoological Foundation received $100,000.00 to incorporate a biomass gasification system in Asian Tropics, its next major exhibit showcasing Asian elephants and other wildlife native to Southeast Asia.

This makes so much sense. Think of all the biomass generated by zoos across the country for umpteen years. Finding a way to use it all as an energy source reflects forward thinking by zoo officials. Kudos to them.

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