Colorado’s New Renewable Energy Standard Among Nation’s Strongest

29/03/2010 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

Though the pace of federal action on climate and clean energy issues continues to lag, states across the nation are keeping up the momentum with strong legislation on a diversity of clean energy fronts.

Colorado topped the list this week by adopting a renewable energy standard (RES) that requires 30 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2020. Colorado’s RES, which also promotes rooftop solar by requiring three percent of the renewable energy to be acquired through distributed generation, is among the strongest in the nation.

“I salute the dedication and commitment of all lawmakers who support the expanded use of renewable resources and cleaner-burning natural gas,” said Colorado Governor Bill Ritter in an op-ed that ran on Sunday in The Pueblo Chieftain. “The energy of our future generations will be cleaner and more sustainable because of their vision and their leadership. Colorado’s workforce will usher in a new era of economic opportunity to compete in and be a leader in a fast-changing world.”

Not only will the Colorado RES create strong demand for renewable energy, it also includes several provisions that will ensure that clean energy jobs are good jobs. One provision requires  a certain ratio of workers on solar installation projects be certified solar installers. According to Charlie Montgomery of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, who is also active with the Colorado Apollo Alliance, community colleges and apprenticeship programs in the state will prepare workers to take the certification test available through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Certified workers bring a high level of competency to their work and can usually demand higher pay than uncertified workers.

“This new law will provide safe, quality photovoltaic installations and create green careers for Colorado’s working families,” said Mary Broderick, renewable energy and marketing agent with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 68, which will help train a new generation of solar installers.

The bill also requires Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to consider job quality and community economic impacts when it considers proposals to build new electricity resources. Whereas in the past, the PUC was required to analyze a proposed project’s cost effectiveness, now the PUC must also consider such factors as the project’s ratio of in-state workers to out-of-state workers; the availability of long-term career opportunities; and the wages, health care and pension benefits being provided by the utility or company proposing the project.

Click here to read the bill.

“By working together, labor and the environmental community have proven that we can build a new cleaner energy economy and ensure that working families thrive at the same time,”  said Carmen Rhodes, executive director of FRESC, the organization that convenes the Colorado Apollo Alliance.


Entry filed under: Incentives, Renewable Energy.

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