Julie Zahniser: Clean energy: Reducing carbon emissions

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 percent carbon reduction by 2030?

Such a plan may be close to fruition.

The Longmont Daily Times-Call reported that Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Estes Park, served by Platte River Power Authority, announced a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 95 percent 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 leaders expressed support: “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 communities on how to transition to renewable energy, 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 backup, and achieves 95 percent non-carbon generation by 2030, with only a small rate increase. This is historic.

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

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

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

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

Julie Zahniser

Published June 9, 2020 in the Daily Camera

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