Two recent stories in the news tell the story of how Colorado’s transition to renewable electricity generation has reached a tipping point. This week, state regulators approved Xcel’s bold Colorado Energy Plan to accelerate the deployment of wind and solar power generation capacity, and to retire several coal fired power plants earlier than planned. Just the week prior, we saw a story of how relaxation of EPA regulations might revive coal mining in Colorado.
Oh how far the mighty have fallen. Not many years ago, wind and solar generation were subsidized to make them competitive with much less expensive coal generated power. Now coal cannot compete with green energy. The Denver Post reported August 22, 2018 that a proposed roll-back of the federal 2015 Clean Power Plan might revive the rapidly shrinking Colorado coal industry. The article quotes Colorado Mining Association president, Stan Dempsey, Jr, saying polluting more will “help Colorado’s economy by providing more certainty for coal producers and utilities.” This wishful thinking appears to be based on the idea that artificially creating demand in the face of marketplace reality can slow the transition to renewables and the retirement of coal power plants.
The reality is that the Colorado Energy Plan represents the bright future of clean electricity generation in Colorado. The Denver Post reported August 26, 2018 that wind and solar electricity production will be increased to 55% by 2030, dramatically exceeding the mandated 30%. The article also reported that several existing coal burning plants would be retired several years ahead of schedule, while others have been adapted to burn natural gas.
These two news stories paint a bright picture of Colorado’s clean energy future. Expansion of renewable electricity generation is now being driven by the marketplace, not climate change or pollution concerns. Once mighty coal is asking for a subsidy in the form of environmental destruction. Colorado is too smart to fall for this nonsense.