- To meet the state’s goal of eliminating 50% of carbon emissions by 2030, Colorado may require an 80% cut in electric sector emissions, according to a draft plan released Wednesday.
- The plan calls for zero-carbon generation from both Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association by 2050, in addition to a transition to 100% electric cars, incentives for electric heating in buildings and a 50% reduction in emissions from oil and gas production by 2030.
- The draft has the state’s solar industry gearing up for growth, but a state oil and gas association expressed concern that Colorado is trading emissions for other environmental harms. Ariana Gonzalez, Colorado policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said studies by the environmental group suggest Colorado has not asked enough of the electric sector.
While electrical generation has been identified as the second most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions by a multi-agency state analysis, Colorado’s newly released Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap devotes more time to addressing transportation and buildings — a direction bolstered by a sense that the state’s power sector is already headed in the right direction.
“With our collective progress toward clean energy and the state’s leading utilities committed to closing coal-fired power plants and replacing them with wind and solar, it’s time to invest in the beneficial electrification of transportation and buildings to expand both the economic and climate benefits of our cleaner electrical grid,” Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, said in a statement.
But Gonzalez believes the electric sector can do better — perhaps even cutting 90% of emissions by 2030.
Models released by NRDC and other groups on Wednesday outline four additional plans for meeting Colorado’s 2050 climate targets, including scenarios where the electric sector transitions more slowly and more quickly than the state plan suggests. These models, Gonzalez said, show that a speedier energy transition could achieve the same overall emissions goals more reliably and at a reduced cost.
“There’s also the question of stock turnover,” Gonzalez said. “We’re waiting for folks to replace their gas stove with an electric stove, or change their hot water heater or car. It’s hard to predict that timeline versus large carbon emitters like coal plants or gas plants, where a single decision-maker can have a really huge impact.”
The models also suggest “huge opportunities for the utilities going forward, and part of that is because of the electrification needed on the building and transportation side.”