Smart energy policies at the state and federal levels have turned Colorado’s wind industry into a national powerhouse that now employs nearly 10 percent of the entire nation’s wind industry workforce – but new policies will be needed to keep the state on top, according to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
The report “Winds of Change” was released by the Rocky Mountains Chapter of E2, a national nonpartisan business group started in 2007. The report found that according to E2’s quarterly clean energy jobs reports, more than 2,500 permanent and temporary wind jobs have been announced in the state since September 2011 alone. It details how Colorado’s wind industry has created between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs at more than 50 individual wind farms and manufacturing plants, according to industry officials and companies.
Additionally, Colorado’s wind industry has led to nearly $5 billion in investments in Colorado’s economy; generates nearly $8 million in annual lease payments for farmers, ranchers and other landowners; and has saved Coloradans nearly $20 million in fuel costs.
“Colorado is fertile ground for innovative, job-creating wind companies,” said Michael Rucker, president of Boulder-based Harvest Energy Services and a director of E2’s Rocky Mountains Chapter. “Policies like our renewables standard have been a big part of that success story. But keeping our edge won’t be easy. We can help secure our reputation as an attractive state for clean energy businesses by supporting the federal Clean Power Plan – which will drive more use of clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency – and by extending and expanding the RPS when our current one expires in five years.”
Already, Colorado is producing enough wind energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes. But by extending and expanding policies like the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard – and by emphasizing renewable energy in the state’s implementation of the Clean Power Plan – the industry would grow even more, according to the report.
Enacted in 2004, Colorado’s RPS is the oldest – and one of the strongest – renewable energy standards in the country. Planning for a new RPS ahead of its scheduled 2020 expiration would give businesses the market certainty they need to continue to invest in the state. Renewing and extending the RPS would also help Colorado meet carbon-emission reduction requirements in the Clean Power Plan, which will set the first-ever limits on power plants and help increase the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency nationwide.
In the most recent legislative session, two bills that would have hobbled Colorado’s clean energy industry – SB15-44, which would have gutted the RPS – and SB15-258, which would have blocked efficient implementation of the Clean Power Plan – were both defeated.
“Colorado has been a clean energy leader for decades,” said State Rep. Jeni James Arndt of Fort Collins. “But with our nation’s energy landscape shifting rapidly, we can’t rest on our laurels. Our legislature has an opportunity – and an obligation – to craft cutting-edge energy policy. If we create a business-friendly climate that helps increase the amount of energy we generate from clean, renewable resources like the wind and sun, we expand Colorado’s economy, create jobs, and reduce harmful carbon emissions.”
Rucker and Arndt helped release the “Winds of Change” report at E2’s 15th anniversary celebration Tuesday night in Denver. E2′ s Rocky Mountains chapter has about 50 members in Colorado who represent diverse industries and advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment.
- To download an infographic highlighting some of the report’s main findings, see here.
- A video produced by E2 on clean energy in Colorado is available here.
Filed Under: News, Policy