Stand Up for a Clean Future
Coloradans have a unique opportunity to support a clean future rather than a dirty past.
Denver is hosting one of only four hearings this summer on the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan -- the only public forum west of Pittsburgh. It gives us an opportunity to speak about the importance of addressing global warming, the most pressing issue of our time.
The beauty of the challenge before us is that while it will take hard work, the solutions are right outside: the sun that beams down 300 days a year and the wind that blows across the plains every day. These sources of proven, reliable clean energy can power the future in a way that not only eases the threat of catastrophic climate change but also provides jobs and economic development right here at home.
The Clean Power Plan builds on Colorado's investment in clean energy in the decade since our voters became the first in the nation to pass a Renewable Energy Standard by petitioning onto the ballot. It will allow us to craft a plan to fight the impacts of climate change such as wildfires, drought, and more frequent and severe storms. And it may be our best opportunity to secure a safer future for our children.
With the Clean Power Plan, we will be able to create a solution specifically to meet Colorado's needs. The Clean Power Plan sets targets for states to reduce carbon from their power plants by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, cleaning up existing power plants, and switching to cleaner fuels. Colorado still gets about two-thirds of its electricity from burning coal and the plan would require cleaning up the state's carbon pollution 35% from 2005 levels.
Our state will be able to craft its own plan to meet the targets and we are well on our way. The Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which is retiring some dirty coal plants, was one of the models for the EPA proposal. A new report puts Colorado in fourth place in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, in part a testament to the strong research base that supports efforts to improve new technologies and integrate them into the power grid.
But to stay in a leadership position and reap the benefits of the Clean Power Plan, we need to make sure our policies don't turn back the clock on progress:
--Xcel Energy has proposed labeling a key policy that enables rooftop solar (called net metering) a subsidy, and devaluing the power residents contribute to the electric grid. We need to provide the full retail value of the solar-powered electricity that residents and business owners have invested to generate.
--Opponents of the Clean Power Plan are running television advertisements calling it a threat to jobs. With the solar industry nationally employing more people than the coal industry, we need to make it clear that we support local solar and other clean energy jobs that strengthen communities across our state. We support all sizes of solar: residential, commercial and utility scale projects.
--We need to continue working to show the benefits of energy efficiency and encourage policies that reward customers of all sizes for reducing their energy demand through technologies including solar thermal.
So many people have signed up to testify at the Environmental Protection Agency hearings July 29 and 30 at the Region 8 headquarters in downtown Denver that the speaking slots are filled. But you can still make your voice heard for a clean energy future. You can attend the hearings to learn more and show support for clean energy. The process will also include written comments and then a process to develop the state plan. Learn more at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards.
Together, we can ensure that the Colorado we love will remain healthy for future generations.
--Charlotte Bromley of Environment Colorado contributed to this post.