A diverse coalition of over 280 organizations and businesses is calling on state leaders to ramp up solar power in Colorado.
With solar energy on the rise in Colorado, a broad coalition of over 280 businesses, farmers, ranchers, brewers, local officials, and civic and environmental organizations, along with more than 11,000 citizens, called on Governor Hickenlooper and other state leaders to think big on solar with a goal of one million solar roofs. The list is available here: http://bit.ly/1aWlYZS
"There's strong public support for expanding solar in Colorado," said Margaret McCall, energy associate with Environment Colorado. "We've made great strides on solar in Colorado, and the progress we've made to date should give us confidence that we can take it to the next level."
The campaign, officially launched earlier this year, includes the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), Environment Colorado, and several other organizations; it sets a goal of installing 3 Gigawatts of solar energy in Colorado by 2030, or roughly 10 times the current installed capacity. The goal includes both rooftop solar and larger arrays.
"The right to choose where Coloradans get their energy is fundamental to who we are. We are all looking to manage and control our energy costs, to identify and opt for cleaner energy sources when possible and to harness for our family, our home, and our business the immense energy that comes from the sun,'' said Jason Wiener, Co-Owner and General Counsel for Namaste Solar and former Board President of COSEIA. "The million solar roofs project paints the vision for where Colorado's energy future is headed. This is the goal and therefore the challenge of our generation."
The popularity of the campaign across a variety of constituencies and geographical regions demonstrates the diverse base of support for solar power in Colorado. Craig McHugh, owner of A Joyful Noise Farm in Black Forest, weighed in for solar power, stating, "As a small farm, we realize every day that anything we can do to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, lower our cost of doing business and reduce our footprint on this world is a good thing." This map shows a geographical representation of the endorsers: http://bit.ly/1aWm3N5
Reaching the goal of a Million Solar Roofs would displace 3.6 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year—the equivalent of taking 760,000 of today's cars off the road. With climate change already contributing to drought, fire, and floods in Colorado, the need to act swiftly to curb carbon emissions is growing more urgent.
By generating roughly 10 percent of the state's energy by 2030, solar electric and solar heating systems would also create economic benefits across Colorado.
Solar thermal energy (also known as solar hot water) is included in the campaign. "Solar thermal systems address the biggest energy load in our state: space heating and hot water heating. The [campaign's] comprehensive objective is a big step forward in our state's new energy strategy," said Laurent Meillon, Vice-President of Capitol Solar Energy, a local solar thermal business since 1982.
Colorado's Million Solar Roofs campaign has outlined a number of state policies that must be implemented or expanded to meet the goal. One of the most important is net metering, a highly successful policy that requires investor-owned utilities to credit customers who invest in solar panels for the excess electricity they supply the electrical grid at the retail rate. Net metering is fundamental to the viability of rooftop solar for both homes and businesses.
Doug Odell, founder of Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, stated that met metering is "a great way…to broaden the source of electricity available to the grid. If you use all the power you generate, you reduce the demand on traditional power sources. If you don't, you feed the power into the grid for others to use. This sounds like a win-win to me."
Despite its success, net metering is under attack by Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest power provider. Xcel is proposing to cut its net metering rate in half, which would mean that homeowners and businesses would receive a reduced credit for the solar energy they sell back to the grid. Xcel has also asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to declare net metering a subsidy. However, the utility's case for doing so is flawed: a comprehensive study done by Crossborder Energy found that far from being a subsidy, net metering contributes up to $11 million in benefits each year to the grid. The debate over net metering is currently before the PUC as part of Xcel's 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan.
For more information, including the petition language, see www.gosolarcolorado.org or www.environmentcolorado.org
Margaret McCall, Environment Colorado, 303-573-3871 x 340
Rebecca Cantwell, COSEIA, 303-333-7342
New video highlights the benefits of going solar
A new video, "Going Solar: The Time is Right'' produced for the Solar Friendly Communities program, one of the key parts of the Million Solar Roofs campaign, shows how dropping costs and the benefits of the program make this a great time to go solar. Watch the video here and please share with your readers: