In the absence of national leadership from the White House, it is up to states like Colorado to chart our course for energy freedom. For our climate, for our national security, for our health, and for our economic growth, we need a bold goal of 100 percent renewable energy. As Governor, I will work with all involved parties to accomplish our statewide clean energy transition by 2040 while saving Coloradans money on their utility bills, and creating green energy jobs in Colorado that can never be outsourced.
Some of our highest-skilled, and hardest working, women and men in the state currently work in coal or oil & gas development, and we cannot ignore the impact the transition to a renewable energy economy is having on our friends and neighbors. As Governor, I recognize the importance of skills learned in coal and oil & gas development towards building a 21st century energy portfolio that will revitalize our rural communities and create jobs in infrastructure, manufacturing, and renewable energy development.
In both the short and long term, this transition will help fuel a vibrant Colorado economy. Projections show that reaching our renewable energy goals in Colorado will create over 49,000 construction jobs and over 21,000 operations jobs while saving consumers 10 percent on energy costs.
Consumers will benefit from this transition. According to a 2016 federal government study, the cost of utility-scale wind is now cheaper than natural gas. The onset of new energy storage technology promises to further improve the cost benefits of a fully renewable energy system, and the cleaner air and water that will come as a result of a 100 percent renewable energy economy will help reduce healthcare costs.
Our technology is finally advanced enough to get this done. Communities in Colorado already have ambitious goals, like Pueblo, which is committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. The entire city of Fort Collins is committed to an 80 percent reduction of all carbon from 2005 levels by 2030, and to being completely carbon neutral by 2050. Cities and towns are leading the way, and with a statewide effort, will create jobs and lower utility costs.
I’ll collaborate with everyone willing to contribute to achieve this goal. This has been my exact approach in Congress. For instance, I teamed up with Rep. Frank Gosar (R-AZ) to streamline permitting procedures for solar, wind, and geothermal projects on public lands. Working with Republicans, Democrats, and other constituencies to cut red-tape and compliance costs around clean energy projects is an important and necessary bipartisan route to success. I look forward to forging these kinds of partnerships as Governor.
Incentives for Energy Efficiency
We can create strong incentives for energy efficiency by:
- Increasing regulatory incentives for energy efficient construction and energy efficient lighting.
- Expanding State Energy Savings Performance Contracting.
- Ensuring that utilities have strong incentives for managing their increasing energy efficiency.
- Increasing regulatory incentives for grid infrastructure upgrades and smart grid investments to improve the efficiency of electricity transmission.
- Building on Governor Hickenlooper’s recent Executive Order to establish policies that account for the costs of carbon to our economy, public health, and environment.
Investment in New Local Renewable Energy Projects
We can spur investment in new local renewable energy projects by:
- Appointing Public Utilities Commissioners who support consumers and renewable energy.
- Encouraging rooftop solar by ensuring that utilities give homeowners, schools and businesses receive full credit for the energy they produce through rooftop solar panels.
- Creating a Colorado-based contingency fund for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for solar home improvements.
- Allowing homeowners and cooperatives to install energy storage equipment.
- Expanding the market for shared renewable energy projects such as geothermal, solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, wind, biomass, municipal solid waste, and increase size limits on production.
- Creating special districts for small to medium scale renewable energy, especially in rural areas.
Support for our Workforce
Support and utilize our skilled workforce by:
- Using innovative financial mechanisms to recapture stranded coal assets and assist communities where coal plants have been retired; retraining and redeploying workers for green energy jobs that can never be outsourced.
- Investing in coal communities where coal plants have retired by creating Workforce Development Commissions to help skilled workers find meaningful work in their field, become entrepreneurs, or retrain for a new career if they choose.
- Fighting for miners to receive the healthcare and retirement benefits they are owed.
- Working with industry and local communities to create partnerships that give shut down mines and factories new missions in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and renewable energy development.
I truly believe that this policy will benefit the entire state – especially rural Colorado, where most of our renewable resources are generated. Politicians that claim we can’t do this are selling an empty promise to some of our hardest working men and women in the state. I will always fight for long-term solutions that prepare our kids for a changing economy, improve our quality of life, and build up main streets across the state.
With this goal, we’ll galvanize a statewide effort that will forge a stronger and more economically vibrant Colorado for everyone. From the Eastern Plains – a hub for wind energy – to the San Luis Valley – where solar is creating more and more jobs – the potential for the entire state to be a part of this effort is too promising not to seize. Striving to achieve this goal will cement Colorado’s economic standing as the best and safest place to raise a family in the nation.