First AWEA state forum in CO highlights industry resurgence
October 11, 2013
With over 100 stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds and interests in attendance, AWEA’s first Colorado Wind Forum, held Tuesday at the University of Denver, celebrated how far the industry has come and where it’s headed in terms of achieving more wind power in Colorado.
In five-plus years, the state has grown from a few hundred megawatts of wind power, to over 2,300 MW today, propelling it to a ranking of 10th in the U.S. As Susan Innis, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for Vestas, observed, “We’ve got a lot to be optimistic about in Colorado—we’ve come a long way.
Key highlights from the forum include national, regional, and Colorado wind market updates, highlighted by the wind industry being back on track with the recent PTC extension and thousands of new megawatts under power purchase agreements across multiple regions in the U.S. In Colorado, Xcel, Tri-State, Black Hills and Platte River Power Authority are collectively purchasing over 600 MW of new wind from projects that will likely be under construction within the next couple of months. Vestas and other manufacturing facilities in Colorado are back on track and are getting new purchase orders keeping Colorado workers busy.
From grassroots to policy to products, the event covered a variety of areas. There was strong recognition about stepping up grassroots activity in the state including a more vocal role for the two wind technician training schools, supply chain members and rural economic development interests in Colorado. Anna Giovinetto, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for RES Americas, focused on the importance of reaching out to legislators, ensuring attendees that “every one of us has the ability to influence policy at the state level and even at the federal level…there is a tremendous amount of support for renewable energy in this society, but if [legislators] don’t hear our voices, they cannot respond.” That panel was followed by a unique, grassroots-style working lunch session, which allowed attendees to select from 20 “table topics” to discuss with industry experts everything from wildlife to transmission to economic development benefits of wind power.
The day’s agenda concluded with a “wind futures” wrap-up panel moderated by former Governor Bill Ritter, which included insights from Public Service Company of Colorado’s CEO David Eves and other industry leaders on how the federal PTC and strong state policies will work together to drive more demand across the country and in Colorado in upcoming years. Geoff Hier of the Colorado Rural Electric Association recognized that while the Congress (and likewise all federal policies that may further the industry) may currently be at an impasse, there are “a whole suite of state and local policies” that can be moved forward now, so that when the federal government is back in full swing, the wind industry can be as well.
The next in the series of these localized, state-focused events will be held in East Lansing, Michigan on November 4th – visit www.awea.org/michigan for more information.