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Business Voice for the Environment

February 19, 2015
Dear Representatives,
As members of Environmental Entrepreneurs who live or do business in Colorado, we write in opposition to SB15-044, a bill that would severely reduce the targets of Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).  Under the current RPS targets, Colorado has become a leader in clean energy development. New investments in wind and solar have created hundreds of new companies that now employ thousands of workers in high paying jobs. A vote for SB15-044 would undermine this economic growth and send a signal to this growing market segment that Colorado does not want their business.  SB15-044 is not in the best interests of the state and we hope you will oppose it.
E2 is a nonpartisan, national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policies that grow the economy. We are entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who collectively have been involved in the financing, founding or development of more than 1,700 companies that have created more than 570,000 jobs. Our members manage billions of dollars in venture and private equity capital that will flow over the next several years into new companies in Colorado and beyond.
Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to adopt an RPS by a vote of the people, quickly establishing itself as a leader in this burgeoning field. Over time this standard has been strengthened to its current targets of 20% by 2015 and 30% by 2020 for investor owned utilities, and a 20% by 2020 target for rural electric cooperatives. It is a direct result of this standard that Colorado has become so successful at attracting clean energy investment.
Currently, Colorado has the seventh largest solar photovoltaic market and the tenth largest wind market in the U.S.  According to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado now has over 23,000 clean tech jobs in 2014.[i] Additionally, over just the past two years, clean energy projects announced in Colorado are expected to create over 2,000 jobs in the solar, wind, and biogas industries when complete.[ii]  Many of these projects provide extra income to the rural landowners who host wind and solar installations.
By all accounts the RPS has been a resounding success in Colorado and our main utilities are on track to meet the targets.  In 2013, 17% of the state’s electricity came from renewable energy resources, with Xcel Energy generating 19% and Black Hills generating 12% from renewables.[iii] Since 2013, these utilities, as well as Tri-State Generation, have continued to bring more renewables onto the grid as wholesale prices have fallen to a point that projects are price competitive with and often less expensive than fossil fuel energy sources. Meanwhile, household energy bills remain 23% lower than the national average and Xcel Energy reports its wind projects have already saved consumers $25 million since 2007.  The RPS has spurred investment without burdensome cost increases to consumers and is locking in low energy rates for years to come.
Overall, Colorado’s RPS has been a boon to the state – laying out a clear market signal for clean energy investment that has been extremely successful at attracting new companies and jobs to the state while also reducing the amount of pollution produced by our energy sector.  Colorado’s RPS performance is a beacon for the rest of the country, demonstrating how clean energy policies are good for the environment, the economy and businesses.  SB-044 would only serve to undermine that success.  Once again we ask that you oppose it.
[i] http://www.metrodenver.org/research-reports/resource-rich-colorado/
[ii] http://cleanenergyworksforus.org/states/colorado/
[iii] http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=CO
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