Denver, February 8, 2016 — Top executives from leading U.S. wind, solar and clean tech companies will visit the State Capitol tomorrow to meet with top state policymakers to discuss how Colorado’s continued renewable energy leadership can help grow well-paying jobs and economic investment in the Centennial State.
The visit coincides with new data released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) – which reveals that Colorado households and businesses will keep more money in their pockets as the state continues to grow wind energy resources
“Colorado is a state that understands how to grow its clean energy economy,” said Sarah Propst, Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance. “To date, we’ve seen well over three gigawatts of wind and solar power built in Colorado, and our renewable energy industry supports more than 10,000 Coloradans in good-paying jobs.”
The new estimates come from calculations made by AWEA using data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s report Wind Vision: A new era for wind power in the United States. According to the report, Colorado can save more than $2.7 billion on consumers’ electricity bills through 2050 by achieving the Wind Vision growth scenario. Greater wind energy use could benefit the Colorado economy by also attracting over $18 million in annual property tax revenue by 2030. It could also reduce the impact of drought by helping to save over 6.5 billion gallons of water every year by 2030.
According to the Wind Vision, wind energy can double from supplying nearly five percent of U.S. electricity demand today to 10 percent by 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050, making wind the leading source of electricity in the U.S.
Colorado currently ranks ninth in the country in solar energy development with 430 MW, and generates nearly 14 percent of its energy from wind power.
Colorado has a supportive policy environment for renewable energy, with a 30 percent by 2020 renewable energy standard for the state’s largest utilities. In addition, the state is moving forward with implementation of the EPA Clean Power Plan, which will further grow demand for Colorado’s wind and solar power, while driving demand across the country for the clean tech products manufactured in the state.
Expanding wind energy can also help Colorado avoid more than 12 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year by 2030 according to the new data, the equivalent of more than 2.6 million cars’ worth of carbon emissions every year.
Including Colorado, nine states already rely on wind power to supply 12 percent or more of their in-state electricity production. Wind can reliably supply even larger amounts of electricity according to a report by the utility consultant The Brattle Group; Wind has at times supplied as much as 40 percent of the electricity on the main Texas grid, and 60 percent on the main utility system in Colorado.
Adding more wind energy also protects consumers against fossil fuel price spikes because utilities can lock-in fixed rates for zero fuel cost wind, lowering consumer electricity bills as a result.
“It’s your energy version of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage that will provide price stability for consumers and ultimately save them $2.7 billion – a fantastic return on investment,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF). “The study clearly shows the benefits of wind that Colorado citizens are already enjoying. It also shows that wind energy can provide an even bigger economic boost in the coming decades.”
A recent national report from Lawrence Berkley National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab show that renewable energy projects built to fulfill state RPS policies resulted in billions of economic and environmental savings, and led to the creation of more than 200,000 jobs nationwide.
In Colorado, wind power alone supports nearly 7,000 jobs, including well-paying manufacturing jobs at 23 factories producing wind power components around the state. Wind energy has already attracted $4.8 billion in capital investment to Colorado and rural landowners currently receive $7.8 million a year in land lease payments.
Colorado’s solar industry is similarly impressive. There are over 380 companies working throughout the supply chain, employing over 4,000 people. Last year, ground was broken on the largest utility-scale solar project east of the Rockies. The Comanche Solar facility located near Pueblo will generate 120 MW (AC), enough electricity to power 31,000 homes. Xcel Energy selected this project through a competitive bid process, after finding it more cost competitive compared with other types of projects.
The Wind Vision reports that more than 380,000 well-paying jobs can be created across the country by wind meeting the 20 percent wind scenario by 2030, up from 73,000 jobs today. That includes 142,000 manufacturing jobs by 2030, up from the nearly 20,000 wind manufacturing jobs as of the end of 2014.