Last week, more than 280 Colorado municipalities and businesses ranging from ranchers to breweries, as well as over 11,000 residents called on Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Colorado’s State Congressional leaders to move forward on a million solar homes project in Colorado via petition. That’s no small feat for a state with roughly 1.9 million households.
The million solar roofs campaign, which would mirror former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) Million Solar Roofs Program, would seek to install solar on a total of 1 million homes by 2030. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), Environment Colorado and other organizations launched the campaign earlier this year.
"There's strong public support for expanding solar in Colorado," said Margaret McCall, Energy Associate with Environment Colorado. "We've made great strides on solar in Colorado, and the progress we've made to date should give us confidence that we can take it to the next level."
The campaign seeks to install a total of 3 gigawatts of solar power throughout Colorado, which the campaign claims is about 10 times the current installed capacity. It would include solar thermal and rooftop solar, as well as larger arrays.
"The right to choose where Coloradans get their energy is fundamental to who we are. We are all looking to manage and control our energy costs, to identify and opt for cleaner energy sources when possible and to harness for our family, our home, and our business the immense energy that comes from the sun" stated Jason Wiener, Co-Owner and General Counsel for Namaste Solar and former Board President of COSEIA.
The multifaceted campaign outlines state policies that Colorado should expand or implement in order to meet the goal. Amongst the most important policies is the expansion or preservation of net-metering policy. Colorado’s biggest utility, Xcel Energy, has proposed halving its net-metering rates and having Colorado declare the policy a subsidy, which could change how it’s taxed. But, COSIEA contends, “The utility's case for doing so is flawed: a comprehensive study done by Crossborder Energy found that far from being a subsidy, net metering contributes up to $11 million in benefits each year to the grid.”
The policy is, "A great way...to broaden the source of electricity available to the grid. If you use all the power you generate, you reduce the demand on traditional power sources. If you don't, you feed the power into the grid for others to use. This sounds like a win-win to me,” added Doug Odell, Founder of Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins.
In addition to the petition, COSIEA’s Solar Friendly Communities also launched a video about the campaign and why now is a good time to go solar. You can check it out here: (http://solarcommunities.org/solar-communities-video/).