on 37! establishes a 10% renewable energy
requirement for Colorado's largest utilities by 2015. Currently the lion’s
share (95%) of our state's generation comes from fossil fuels -- coal and
natural gas -- with tiny amounts (2%) from wind and solar.
More jobs from renewables.
renewable requirements are effective.
Amendment 37 is too expensive.
Businesses will pick up the tab.
Isn’t solar expensive?
A mandate is not necessary.
Yes on 37!
Colorado's power generators are major sources of air pollution. According
to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Colorado fossil power
plants annually emit:
- 90,000 tons of sulfur dioxide or oxides (SOx)
- 77,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx)
- 500 tons of airborne mercury
- 44 million tons carbon dioxide (CO2)
Added to this are the environmental impacts of extracting fossil fuels
from the ground. The EPA states that 48% of the 3.6 million tons of the
material in its 1998 Toxic Release Inventory are from mining companies, a
category that includes extraction of metals, oil, natural gas, and coal.
Fossil power plants consume 20 billion gallons of Colorado water a year,
an amount equal to the consumption of a city the size of Aurora. Over 20
years Yes on 37! will reduce the state’s water consumption
by 53,000 acre-feet, which is equal to the combined capacity of four
reservoirs serving Denver: Gross, Marston, Ralston, and Strontia Springs.
If you ever doubted the effect of generation of electricity from fossil
fuels, read one of the "original" reports from 1993 on this subject
published by the Renewable Energy Policy Project and titled "The
Environmental Imperative," (PDF 38 KB).
Costs for New Power Plants in 2010
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration's "Annual
Energy Outlook 2004"
with projections to 2025.
With fossil fuel prices at historical highs, wind power generation is
bidding lower than conventional generation in windy states throughout the
Midwest. Last summer Xcel testified to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission that the Lamar wind power plant will save Colorado consumers
$4.6 million a year. The Rocky Mountain News reported on August 13 that
Xcel Energy's data for the cost of wind energy in Colorado is one-fifth to
one-half of one cent ($0.002 – $0.005) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) lower than
the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants.
Almost everyone agrees the cost of fossil fuels will rise inexorably over
time, while wind energy costs are declining rapidly. See the accompanying
chart for the U.S. Department of Energy's projections for the future cost
of energy from wind and fossil.
More Jobs from Renewable Energy
One of the reasons that rural communities are so often in favor of
renewable energy is the potential for income generation. For example, a
typical payment to a landowner hosting a wind power development is $2,000
per year per turbine. In addition this brings property tax revenues to
small, rural communities. When Yes on 37! adds 1,400 megawatt
(MW) of installations as planned, rural communities located mostly on the
eastern plains will see an increase of $14 million in annual tax revenues.
And then there are the jobs. Every 100 MW of wind development creates
about 500 job-years of employment. According to the Renewable Energy
Policy Project in Washington DC, the renewable energy sector generates
more jobs than the fossil power sector.
Person-Years of Employment
per Million Dollars Invested
(for 10 years):
Solar PV 5.65
For more statistics, read a report by the Energy Resources
Group Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California
Berkeley titled, "Putting Renewables to Work: How Many Jobs Can the Clean
Energy Industry Generate?" (PDF 1.1 MB)
Requirements for Renewable Energy are Effective
The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA)
reported in August that state standards for renewable energy have resulted
in the most installations among all policy options currently in place in
the United States. As of January 2004, more than 2,000 MW of renewable
energy capacity have been installed nationwide, and more than 90% of these
installations are for wind power. Read the
So far, 17 states have enacted a minimum renewable energy requirement.
Among these states, Colorado would be in the middle with a 10% commitment
to renewable energy. Almost half of the electricity generated in the
country is now associated with a state minimum renewable energy
requirement, and no one has seen their electricity bills escalate, as the
Questions from the Cons
Opponents say there are “unanswered questions” about
Yes on 37! Here are the answers!
1. Utilities and coal companies opposing
Amendment 37 claim it will add hundreds of millions of dollars to
customers’ bills. Where do they get these numbers?
They have not released their calculations to the public despite repeated
requests, so that’s a good question. Keep in mind that once installed,
costs for wind and solar energy are set for the lifetime of their
operation. Their costs are very predictable and tend to stabilize energy
bills. On the other hand, the fuel prices swing up and down with the
market. Utilities pass the costs of these swings on to consumers through
riders on their bills.
Capital and maintenance costs are known for conventional generation from
historical bids and other public information. For the opposition’s claims
to add up, they have resurrected the 1950’s slogan for the price of fossil
fuels as “too cheap to meter.”
Given that Xcel just announced a 26% rate increase for natural gas and
Tri-State G&T announced a 14% increase in its wholesale electricity rates,
we think that "too cheap" scenario is unlikely. We think a more likely
scenario is moderately steady cost increases as projected by the U.S.
Department of Energy. Based on these assumptions, Ron Binz, the former
consumer advocate for the State of Colorado, has projected the most
probable outcome of Yes on 37! is to decrease statewide
utility costs by $14 million. Read the Binz report online along with his
assumptions for the price of fossil fuels (PDF 1.3 MB).
If we are wrong, however, and the price of fossil fuels takes a dive,
renewable energy would be comparatively more expensive at that point. The
statute (Amendment 37 is not a constitutional amendment) limits the
increase to residential consumers to $0.50 a month and other customers to
2. If costs to residential
customers are limited to a $0.50 a month increase on their bill, won’t
business have to pick up the rest of Amendment 37’s potential cost?
No. There are no additional costs to pay because the requirement ends for
everyone as soon as the average residential bill increases by $0.50 a
month. Colorado law prohibits utilities from favoring one class of
customers in its charges. Utilities cannot pass additional costs on to
businesses under Amendment 37.
3. Amendment 37 mandates rebates of
up to $200,000 per customer for installing of solar energy. Isn’t solar
energy more expensive?
Utilities will pay customers $2,000 per kilowatt (kW) for
installing of solar power (PV) on their homes. Utilities pay for adding a
valuable resource to the grid, just like any source of electricity. In
this case, the customers pay the balance of the installation costs.
Distributed throughout the power system in this way, solar is worth more
to the utility than bulk power because it is generated close to where it
is consumed and reduces loading on the distribution system. Thus solar
generation improves overall system reliability. Note also that the amount
of this rebate is less than the $2,300 per kW that Tri-State G&T is
charging its customers to build a new coal-fired power plant. (Tri-State
is the second largest power generating company in Colorado and provides
electricity to rural electric cooperatives throughout the West.)
already ranks eighth in the country among states using renewable energy.
Why is a state mandate necessary?
While it is true that certain Colorado utilities have policies and
programs that support development of renewable energy (and some of these
support Amendment 37), the opposition is no friend of renewable energy.
Xcel Energy currently proposes to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to
require homeowners to install redundant and expensive metering equipment
to connect their PV modules to the grid. Instead Yes on 37!
establishes a simple, inexpensive interconnection standard that is in
place in 37 other states. In 2000, Xcel rejected the low bid from GE Wind
to build the Lamar wind power plant. Only when consumer advocates,
including the authors of Amendment 37, complained to the PUC did the Lamar
Some Colorado utilities are even more hostile to renewable energy than
Xcel. For example, the head of Tri-State G&T has declared that it will
“never adopt wind energy.” Tri-State owns its supplier coal company, which
is nationally known for lobbying Congress for policies favoring coal-fired
electricity generation. They claim increases of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere are “good for the environment.”
The companies that are financing the opposition to Amendment 37 stand to
gain financially from increases in coal consumption and sales. They hold
monopoly positions granted to them by state authority and are not swayed
by consumers' preferences for the sources of electricity in the market.
Fossil ideology governs their behavior on this issue, not logic, consumer
protection, or sound economics.
You can help Colorado take a modest step
toward a more sustainable energy future on November 2.
Vote Yes on 37! It just makes sense.
Find more questions and answers online from
Yes on 37!
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