Future generations will produce and consume energy in profoundly different ways than we do today, and much of that shift will include renewable energy. That’s not only because renewable energy is good for the environment, but also because it is good business. The energy business is one of the largest and most important businesses in the world, and leadership in developing the resources of the future is key to giving our children both a clean environment as well as economic opportunity.
State governments have long driven American progress on renewable energy. While national and international policymakers have been wrestling with global solutions, local leaders have been busy passing ambitious laws, designing innovative programs and building the foundations of our new energy economy. In doing so, they are creating thousands of jobs, improving our environment and building energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
In Colorado, we’ve seen just how powerful these policies can be. In 2004, the people of the great State of Colorado demanded a Renewable Portfolio standard through the initiative process when our legislature lacked the vision to establish one through legislation. Since taking office in 2007, I have made it a priority to build a self-sustaining New Energy Economy in the state upon the policy foundation established by the people nearly six years ago. Colorado now has a 30 percent Renewable Energy Standard – including a requirement of 3 percent from distributed generation. Policies like this one are driving unprecedented growth in Colorado’s renewable energy economy while creating thousands of jobs in the process.
The policies highlighted in Freeing the Grid – fair net metering and strong interconnection rules – have provided Colorado with the regulatory certainty companies need to invest and prosper in the state. These policies also allow energy consumers to declare energy independence and generate their own electricity easily and at lower cost. They help make solar and other distributed renewables an affordable option. They remove red tape and streamline deployment of renewable power plants. They encourage private investment in a new energy infrastructure that benefits us all. They diversify our energy supplies and build new networks of jobs and employment. They are truly empowering.
We’ve also seen how important it is to get these policies right and to change and shift with a growing clean energy economy. To open the opportunities of solar energy to renters and those without the ability to put solar on their homes, we are also among national leaders in developing Community Solar Gardens.
I am proud that Colorado is showing the way on distributed renewable energy. But there is no reason each and every state can’t put the right policies in place to harness the many benefits of this New Energy Economy. The 2010 Edition of Freeing the Grid shows us that, from coast to coast, these once-obscure policies are becoming accepted best practices to support customer investment in renewable energy. The 2010 report also highlights how much work is left to be done.
Freeing the Grid provides a clear roadmap for progress. It takes the guesswork out of designing effective renewable energy policies. I invite you to use the information held within these pages to help move each state toward an “A” grade and build our nation’s cleaner, safer, more prosperous energy future.