Colorado’s Energy Future could become national model

Bill Ritter’s Colorado Promise touts a “New Energy Economy” as part of its platform. With Democrats in the leadership position in the Governor’s mansion, the house and senate a renewed emphasis on energy efficiency and renewables could set a model for Washington to follow. As Steve Raabe and Christine Tatum write in the Denver Post, Colorado energy future is shows promise after the results of the November election:

Conventional political wisdom holds that Democrats will favor alternative and renewable energy, while taking a tougher look at the environmental impact of traditional energy sources – oil, natural gas and coal.

Yet some energy issues such as wind power and more oil and gas drilling have bipartisan support, and Democrats alone may not set the agenda.

“Responsible politicians in both parties recognize that America has been sleepwalking to disaster,” said Colorado energy analyst Randy Udall, “and that a new emphasis on energy efficiency, renewable energy and domestic production is needed.”

Here are a few of the sectors and companies that could see changes under the new political regime.

Biofuels

Colorado already has a strong foothold in the industry of making liquid fuels from crops, with several ethanol and biodiesel plants in operation, more under development and a research hub at the Golden-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Clean coal

Democrats are expected to take a strong look at the carbon emissions and pollutants from 153 new coal-burning power plants proposed for the next quarter century.

Oil and gas

Big Oil may be “a big loser” as congressional drilling limits are feared. Industry officials hope changes won’t inhibit extraction.

Industry officials are concerned about possible congressional initiatives to limit drilling on public lands and in coastal waters, as well as to assess windfall-profit taxes on oil and gas production.

Xcel Energy

Xcel, Colorado’s largest gas and electric utility, has recently embraced a carbon-reduction plan that is likely to win it kudos from majority Democrats in Congress and the Colorado legislature.

But Xcel’s support for a proposal that would reduce utilities’ carbon emissions without imposing taxes on utilities – in the form of draft legislation by Republican U.S. Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota – could run into trouble in the new Congress. The proposal will face competition from several Democratic initiatives that would impose caps and taxes on carbon from coal-burning power plants.

Wind power

Despite a growing embrace of the industry, Congress has failed to enact a long-term tax credit that makes wind energy cost-competitive.

Wind energy has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Washington and Colorado in recent legislative sessions. Xcel Energy is the nation’s largest purchaser of wind power, primarily to serve customers in Colorado and Minnesota.

But Congress, to the dismay of wind-energy producers, has repeatedly failed to enact a long-term tax credit that makes wind energy cost competitive with coal-fired generation.

Read the full article . . .

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