As state Senate mulls renewable energy bill, report shows jobs potential

A report released ahead of state Senate debate on a bill that would up Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) to 30 percent by 2020 finds that HB 1001 would generate 23,450 new jobs over the next decade.

solar array

Released Tuesday by the nonprofit renewable energy and environmental advocacy groups Vote Solar and Environment Colorado, the “Investing in the Sun” report concluded that 23,450 new jobs would result from the 700 megawatts of smaller, distributed solar energy systems HB 1001 would require over the next decade.

HB 1001, which passed the House on a party-line vote Feb. 12, increases the overall renewable energy standard for investor owned utilities to 30 percent by 2020, as well as requires that 3 percent of total electricity sales come from “distributed generation” systems such as small-scale solar.

The bill, which was sponsored in the House by Rep. Max Tyler (D-Golden), was introduced in the Senate by Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) and Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus) on Feb. 16, where it was referred to the Local Government and Energy Committee.

Voters statewide first approved a 10-percent RES – meaning the percentage of a utility’s power generated by renewable sources – for investor owned utilities such as Xcel Energy in 2004, and the legislature increased that to 20 percent by 2020 in 2007.

Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, has indicated a willingness to support HB 1001, which is the key provision of Gov. Bill Ritter’s New Energy Economy push in 2010.

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