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Renewable Energy Standards


Colorado is reaching a bit of an odd moment in the short history of renewable energy in this county. In 2004, Colorado voters decided to create a sustainable energy requirement for the state. It’s been wildly successful, so much so that the state has about reached it. And now there’s very little incentive for the energy companies to continue investing in renewables. Without the state mandate, progress is beginning to stall out.

While the clear answer to me is for Colorado voters to raise the bar, this gets at larger problems with the American grid. The decentralized nature of American energy allows for local decisions, which can be positive but can also lead to inertia. A federal initiative to improve renewable energy sources in the states could have great impact, but of course won’t happen in today’s climate. At the very least, we must have the extension of government subsidies for wind and solar energy, both of which are scheduled to expire by next year.

A state like Colorado is both windy and sunny and there’s no good reason it can’t be producing a huge chunk of its energy from renewable sources. With the cost of renewable energy declining, consumer demand might do a good bit to promote its continued expansion, but this is one area where government can make a huge difference in people’s lives and in the environment.

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  • Greco

    today’s climate

    I see what you did there.

  • Yeah, careful Erik. I can already see the “Climategate Redux!: Tree-hugging blogger admits cooling trend!!1!”

  • DK

    We fail to make the most of decentralization when we spend all our energies condemning various outrageous things that happen in the most red of states, instead of focusing some of our energies on getting the bluest states to take the lead in advancing progressive policy. Obviously, the over attention to the clown car that you’ve been rightly bemoaning is a big part of this too.

    While we’re on the subject, I’ll plug the Progressive States Network, which puts out a lot of good ideas in terms of policy and framing. State fights like this one (or IN right to work) are less sexy, I guess, but they are areas that matter a lot and a place where activism can make a real difference. And the more such action takes place on the state level that can shift power dynamics (whether its renewable energy, or state banks, or broader labor rights) the more possibilities will open up at the federal level.

  • wengler

    There are a lot of governing structures for US electricity, but nearly all of it is still centrally produced. Even the renewable energy schemes here attempt to replicate the centralized industrial structure of the energy sector.

    I think we should be much more interested in building up decentralized production like Germany does with its solar panels on rooftops initiative.

    I know, I know, it doesn’t give rich people money so it has no shot.

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