The third attempt in two years to push a renewables portfolio standard (RPS) law through the Colorado state legislature cleared its first hurdle last month. Sponsored by Republican House Speaker Lola Spradley and supported by the utilities subject to the law, the House voted 39 to 26 to send the bill to the state's Senate. If it receives final approval by June, Colorado will have the first RPS passed by a state legislature since California's in September 2002 and New Mexico's in December 2002. A similar bill in Colorado failed last year by one vote in the Senate. Rather than set a required percentage of electricity sales, like California's 20% by 2017 target, the Colorado standard is expressed in megawatts, as it is in Texas. Xcel Energy, the largest investor-owned utility in the state serving 70% of electric and gas customers, and Aquila Inc, serving about 35,000 customers, would be required to have online 520 MW of renewables by 2006, 900 MW by 2010 and 1800 MW by 2020. As written, the law would allow utilities to count existing resources, including the 250 MW of wind and 65 MW of hydro Xcel now has in place. Xcel's Mark Stutz says the utility supports the bill and has been working with lawmakers to shape it. "The standards are becoming law in many states and it makes sense to us to work with the sponsors to shape it for utility use," he says. He adds that knowing how much renewables would be required also gives the company some planning certainty.
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