Julie Zahniser: Better Colorado Energy Plan


Most Boulderites agree: we want low-cost clean electricity as soon as possible. Wouldn’t it be great if a Colorado utility had a plan for 95% carbon reduction by 2030?

Such a plan may be close to fruition.

The Longmont Times-Call reported that municipal utilities, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Estes Park, served by Platte River Power Authority (PRPA), announced a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 95% by reducing coal and natural gas and increasing renewable energy to generate electricity.  The plan is in response to customer demand.

According to BizWest, many northern Colorado business and community leaders expressed support for PRPA. “Moving swiftly to a clean energy economy is an essential step to strengthening local economic development and improving the quality of life in Northern Colorado for … residents and businesses.”

PRPA gathered feedback from member communities on how to transition to renewable energy (RE), then developed three concrete options to achieve its goals, comparing fuel and storage costs, emissions impacts and time frames.

Especially interesting is PRPA’s Option 2, which eliminates coal-fired generation, adds renewables and storage, keeps limited natural gas back-up, and achieves 95% non-carbon generation by 2030, with only a small rate increase. This is historic.

Meanwhile, PRPA will reach 50% non-carbon electricity this year.

Boulder has a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and currently receives about 30% renewable electricity from Xcel Colorado. Xcel has a stated goal of 80% renewable electricity by 2030, but has not shared a written plan to get there.

Boulder would like to achieve emissions reduction and clean energy goals, and harness economic benefits that will soon be available to our neighbors.

If PRPA can have a 95% carbon reduction plan for 2030, then Boulder should be able to have one too, with or without Xcel.

Julie Zahniser/Boulder

As published in the July 9, 2020 Boulder Weekly