Julie Zahniser: Push for competitive electricity marketPublished on: Monday, March 28, 2016
Letter to the Editor:
State Sen. Matt Jones’ March 13 guest opinion delivered a promising message of Colorado’s potential for economic competitiveness, job creation, and mitigation of health and environmental problems through clean energy.
Colorado used to be a clean energy leader. But Xcel Energy, even with its current wind energy and planned wind and solar expansion, is allowing Colorado to be left behind in the dirty energy dust. Texas has already achieved its 2020 clean energy target, almost four times Colorado’s wind generation. Oregon’s clean energy goal is 50 percent by 2040, phasing out coal by 2030; and both California and New York are heading to 50 percent renewables by 2030. Even Minnesota, partly served by Xcel, has no cap on community solar, and targets 40 percent renewables by 2017 and blowing past Colorado’s wind capacity by 2030. Where is Colorado’s aggressive plan for more renewables?
Colorado is falling behind partly because we do not have a competitive market for purchasing electric power. Corporations have found a competitive advantage in states where they can contract directly with wind farms and solar farms for renewable energy. This helps corporations achieve their sustainability goals. It also helps their bottom line.
When electricity from renewables is cheaper than electricity that corporations can buy from utilities, competitive contracts allow companies to lock in low fixed energy costs for 20 years.
Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Institute reported the startling fact that in 2015 50 percent of all large-scale wind and solar contracts were made by Fortune 500 companies like Google and Steelcase. These contracts were mostly in the Texas energy market where there is no utility middleman.
If Colorado wants to stay competitive in attracting and keeping good businesses, we could start by switching to a competitive electricity market. Tell your elected representatives to push clean energy and real choice in Colorado.
Julie Zahniser lives in Boulder.
This letter to the editor was originally published by Boulder Daily Camera.