Colorado Voters Approve Renewable Energy Requirement

November 10, 2004

Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative on November 4th that requires the state's largest utilities to draw on renewable energy for 10 percent of their power needs by 2015. The measure is the first voter-approved statewide renewable energy requirement in the United States, and is a clear indicator of public support for renewable energy. The measure also requires solar power to provide 4 percent of the renewable energy, and half of the solar power must be located at customers' facilities. To encourage their customers to install solar power, the utilities must offer a rebate of $2 per watt for systems up to 100 kilowatts in capacity, and must allow the customers' solar power generation to earn credit against their power use, a concept known as net metering. The initiative requires the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to initiate a rulemaking process before April 1st and have the new rules in place a year later. See the press release from Environment Colorado or download the full text of the initiative (PDF 24 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

According to Platts, an energy information company owned by McGraw-Hill, the Colorado renewable energy initiative will require a total of 1,200 megawatts of wind power capacity in Colorado by 2015. Although biomass, geothermal, and solar energy also qualify to meet the requirement, as well as fuel cells powered with renewable-generated hydrogen, Platts argues that wind power is the lowest-cost choice for the state. Platts also estimates the measure could result in 80 megawatts of new solar power in the state. See the McGraw-Hill press release.