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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Colorado energy leaders discuss national energy

Paula Connelly, a lawyer for Xcel Energy, the leading utility provider in Colorado, said Colorado would be well positioned if national legislation is ever passed.
The state has one of the most aggressive renewable energy portfolio standards in the country. Utility companies will be required to get 30 percent of the power they sell from renewable sources by 2020.
“And Xcel is on track to meet that challenge,” Connelly said.
While Xcel Energy does not support the idea of implementing a feed-in-tariff program to promote individuals and businesses to install solar panels, the company does invest 2 percent of every bill it collects on finding and cultivating new clean energy sources, she said.
The Colorado state legislature also passed a law at the end of last year requiring a number of the state’s coal-fired plants to be turned into natural gas burning plants.
The legislation was met with tremendous opposition, she said, and she could only imagine the outcry that different parts of the country would have if the federal government made any mandates on clean power.
“It’s a very regional issue,” she said.
Even in Colorado, Connelly said, the southwest is well suited for solar, while the eastern plains are perfect for wind generation.
Yet a national energy policy could be very good for the state, Connelly said. It would allow Colorado to become an energy exporter as long as the state and nation can address issues with its energy transmission infrastructure.
Connelly said transmission issues have plagued Xcel’s clean energy program. Getting the power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed is the biggest challenge to the utility, state and country face.
More and more states are passing renewable portfolio standards, McIntosh said.
That’s the beginning of an energy policy said Angelina Pramataro, who works with MiraSolar, a solar integration company in Fort Collins, Colo., that is closely aligned with Abound Solar, a local solar thin-film manufacturer.
Pramataro came to Fort Collins from Germany, which has had phenomenal success with its feed-n-tariff program. The program there made Germany, a country with a climate similar to that of Seattle, a world leader in the solar industry, she said. Forty-eight percent of the world’s solar installations are in Germany, a relatively tiny country.
In Germany, it didn’t start overnight,” she said. “It was one city in Germany, and then another started feed-in-tariffs, and it went like that until it was a national energy policy. Maybe Fort Collins can be the example, and then Colorado can lead the country.”
Pictured: Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, a huge supporter of renewables, talks solar energy with the students of Fowler Elementary back in November 2010.


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