Paul Culnan: Open Comment to Council Oct 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

Good evening City Council.

We have plenty of disaster news these days so here is some other climate related news.

Portland General Electric announced last Thursday the closing of the last coal-fired power plant in Oregon, 20 years ahead of schedule. The closure of the Boardman plant comes as the result of an agreement reached in 2010 between the utility, consumers and regulators to curb air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions in the state.

Another story: The Rhodium group, an economic analysis firm, estimates that US economy-wide emissions dropped by 2% in 2019 to roughly 12% below 2005 levels. That is the good news. The bad news is that the US GHG emissions were still over 5.7 Billion Metric Tons per year and NOT on a trajectory to meet Paris AgreementĀ  Targets.

Boulder had been ahead of the curve on our climate goals over the past few years. Unfortunately, our target trajectory was relatively easy to meet early on and gets a lot tougher now going forward from 2020 to 2030, primarily because the target assumed a path to 100% renewable electricity by 2030. With the issue 2C franchise agreement with Xcel, that path will be difficult to follow, not because of physics, technology, intent, or desire, but because of cost.

A franchise agreement with Xcel would leave us with the most expensive and improbable path to 100% renewable electricity you could devise. It is up to you, City Council Members, to make this right. If 2C should pass, somehow make it work. I can think of a dozen ways we fail. If 2C should pass somebody must come up with the plan for success.

Paul Culnan
Boulder, CO

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