Report: Wind Energy Accounts for 11% of Colorado’s Electricity

Wind turbines in Colorado

Wind energy doesn’t blow…well, sort of.

According to a report released today by Environment Colorado, wind energy is making a significant impact in Colorado, responsible for 11% of the state's electricity.

Via Environment Colorado (full release after the jump):

Colorado’s wind energy is already displacing more than 3 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution, which is the equivalent of taking over 700,000 cars off the road. Wind energy is also saving more than 1.5 million gallons of water per year, which is enough to meet the needs of 36,990 people, or over a third of Boulder’s population….

…The report shows that wind energy is now providing 6,045,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in Colorado, which amounts to be 11 percent of the state’s electricity. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, Colorado could displace the carbon pollution equivalent of more than 584,467 passenger vehicles, and save enough water to meet the annual needs of nearly 32,432 people.

Senator Mark Udall has been an outspoken champion of wind energy for years, and has ramped up his support in the past year as the federal tax credit has been threatened. Udall's focus on renewable energy makes good policy sense, and it's also a much better political strategy than casting yourself as one of fracking's biggest supporters. Frankly, we've always wondered why more Colorado politicians don't carry the wind energy flag more often; it's better for the environment and has added more than 10,000 jobs to Colorado. As a bonus, there's no loud chorus of people claiming that wind energy is bad.

Boulder, CO – Wind energy is on the rise in Colorado and is providing significant environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released today by Environment Colorado. Colorado’s wind energy is already displacing more than 3 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution, which is the equivalent of taking over 700,000 cars off the road. Wind energy is also saving more than 1.5 million gallons of water per year, which is enough to meet the needs of 36,990 people, or over a third of Boulder’s population.

“Wind energy has done a lot for the state of Colorado already,” said Anneli Berube of Environment Colorado. “Now our state and national leaders need to take action to make sure we continue to reap the benefits of this industry.”

Thanks to its current and future carbon-displacement benefits, wind power is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming by 17 percent by 2020. The plan calls for an expansion of renewable energy, investment in energy efficiency, and the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. This plan is significant for Colorado, given the extreme weather events that have swept the state, and particularly Boulder County and the surrounding area, recently. Global warming is making extreme weather events like wildfires and storms more frequent and more severe.

“Boulder County has suffered firsthand the impacts of extreme weather, from intense wildfires like the Fourmile Canyon Fire in 2010, to the recent flooding caused by a 1000-year rainstorm,” said Elise Jones, Boulder County Commissioner. “We need to do whatever we can to reduce carbon pollution so that disasters like these—or worse—don’t become our new normal.”

The report shows that wind energy is now providing 6,045,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in Colorado, which amounts to be 11 percent of the state’s electricity. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, Colorado could displace the carbon pollution equivalent of more than 584,467 passenger vehicles, and save enough water to meet the annual needs of nearly 32,432 people.

“Wind power has provided major economic benefits for Colorado, employing more than 4,000 workers in 17 factories, paying $7.5 million to landowners who lease their property for turbines, and attracting more than $4 billion of capital investment to the state,” said Anna Giovinetto, VP of Corporate Affairs for RES Americas, one of the top renewable energy companies in North America, with an office in Broomfield. “The environmental benefits are also significant in both the amount of water saved and the carbon emissions reduced by using wind power instead of fossil fuels.”

Colorado’s recent progress on wind is the direct result of Colorado’s strong renewable energy standard and federal incentives for wind power. Despite the clear benefits of wind and widespread bipartisan support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their political allies have vigorously opposed these initiatives.

The main federal incentives for wind – the investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) – are currently set to expire at the end of 2013.

“Wind energy is improving our quality of life in Colorado,” said Berube. “We cannot let polluters and their allies stand in the way of furthering the promise of wind. We applaud Senator Udall and Congressman Polis for leading the charge supporting critical incentives and urge them to do whatever it takes to get federal wind incentives get extended before the end of the year.”

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Nice piece. It is good to know of this.

    I am always mesmerized by the big generator fields as I drive across the great plains. I often see them at sunrise with a dark prairie sky behind them as they shine in the morning light. There are more and more every year.

    It always makes me think that there is hope for us…

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      This is great news – and for those of us that have been in this battle since we took on Xcel and Tri-State in the 2004 Amendment 37 campaign – a hard fought battle that set our state on a very differnt course.  We've suffered through the faux  "War on Rural Colorado" campaign – now only to hear rumblings that Tri-State has internally given the go-ahead to two new wind farms (no public announcement, yet).

      There is no shortage of rural counties that could be significant beneficiaries in continuing aggressively down this path.  As an interesting aside, every eastern Colorado county that is today benefitting from the wind farms (located in their counties serving the urban demand created by the 30% mandate on Xcel Energy) either refrained to join the secession vote [Lincoln and Prowers] or rejected the notion of 'leaving' [Weld, Logan, Elbert].

      The next time Commissioner Hare rambles on about the evils of green energy he might take pause and let his (mis)firing neurons catch up with his tongue activity.

      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        Correction – the caffiene hasn't yet done it's magic: Lincoln County is in the second category (it was on the ballot and rejected).  Also, I would add Morgan County to the first category (wasn't put on the ballot – all they have to do is peek over the county line to Logan and understand that a powerful, economic transformation has taken place there).   But you get the point: everyone county that is benefitting from this energy transition created by the pre-SB252 mandate is not, today, "a secessionist county".  

        And apologies to our resident English teacher on the sentence structure in the above post.  Ugh.

         

  2. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    My wife and I drove to Chicago at the end of the summer for a neice's wedding and lost count of the number of convoys we saw transporting windmill blades. They slowed the traffic down, but it made me happy to see them so in demand.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    The next generation of Coloradans will be focused on renewables. I was at a science fair today for a Pueblo K-8 school. The school's population is about half free/reduced lunch, about half hispanic and black, and these kids blew me away. Half of the projects I saw were solar energy projects, one of which featured a working water distillery. These kids are looking at the future.

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Most Coloradans - consistent with our neighbors in the Rocky Mountain West – are solidly behind renwables.  The notable exceptions seem to be white men who represent wide swaths of rural Colorado landscapes – and old, white men who run utilities.

  5. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Sometimes I am so embarrassed to be an old, white, man….

  6. gertie97 says:

    It was more than 25 years ago that I visited the San Luis Valley for the first time. It's breathtaking in scenery and breathtaking in its poverty. But even then, there were sproutings of solar everywhere. One gentleman showed me his hot water heater–an old propane yard bomb filled with water, painted black and sitting on his roof. There were windmills and rudimentary solar collectors all over. People explained they weren't enviros–it was economic, pure and simple.

    Even the old fat white guys (not counting you, Duke) will get it as time goes on.

     

  7. gertie97 says:

    Oops. Grumpy, maybe?

  8. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    OK…grumpy is certainly appropriate..

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