Colorado has a long history of leading the nation towards a clean, renewable energy future. For example, we were one of the first states to implement a Renewable Energy Standard in 2004, and since then we’ve taken big steps to increase our homegrown solar and wind energy production.
However, we could be doing much more. Renewables have rapidly become much more cost-effective, and our state has vast potential for producing energy from solar and wind. The question arises: who gets to decide on Colorado’s energy mix?
There are five key players who help decide our state’s energy future.
1. Utility companies
Companies like Xcel Energy and Colorado Springs Utilities make critical decisions about our state’s energy mix. Aside from providing our energy, they often propose new energy projects and are in charge of building our energy infrastructure. Xcel Energy is Colorado’s largest electricity provider, and made several announcements to move the state towards significantly more renewable energy sources. Xcel is already asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve its plans to build additional renewable energy projects and investments in Colorado’s electric grid, such as Rush Creek Wind, slated to be the largest wind farm in Colorado.
2. Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
The PUC is a board of three commissioners appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate. As an independent board, it has many important responsibilities:
The PUC has the power to approve energy projects proposed by some utility companies, including Xcel Energy. The PUC will be making monumentally important decisions this summer and into next year with regards to Colorado’s energy mix, especially about whether to put more renewables on the grid. With several proceedings set to move forward, the state has the opportunity to take huge steps forward towards advancing clean energy and reducing carbon pollution.
3. Governor Hickenlooper
The governor can influence statewide decision-making on clean energy, and has sway in Colorado’s renewable future through his ability to put forth executive actions like Colorado’s Climate Plan. He’s demonstrated leadership for renewable energy by moving forward on the Clean Power Plan in spite of a delay in the Supreme Court. He plays a key role by taking input from Coloradans and making sure it is heard by decision-makers. That’s why it’s so important to tell him what you want to see with energy in Colorado – it’s part of his job to listen to your input!
4. Colorado’s Legislature
The state legislature can create policies, like the Renewable Energy Standard, that can support or incentivize renewable energy growth. In the past few years the legislature has been more focused on defensive measures for protecting our air and public health rather than bold policies to increase renewable energy sources, but it is one avenue of making change that may come into focus again next year.
As a voter, citizen, and energy customer, you have more power than you might think. Since you are undoubtedly a ratepayer to one of Colorado’s utility companies, your input matters. Coloradans should have the right to request more renewable energy from their utilities and the state, and have the ability to provide input on broad decisions that affect our future.
Your opinions matter — so make sure to stay informed with us about the latest on renewables in Colorado. Thanks for standing with us!