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Colorado Bill Requires 20% Renewables from Rural Utilities

Colorado CapitolColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has a bill on his desk to increase the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirement on the state’s large rural electric cooperatives.

SB 252 would require the rural utilities to procure 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020 – a boost from the current 10% by 2020 requirement co-ops must meet. The current RPS mandate has been in affect since 2010. Rural co-ops with 100,000 meters or more would have to comply.

“Technically, this really impacts the energy providers for a lot of these co-ops,” said a spokesman for Conservation Colorado, an advocacy group that supports the legislation.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Intermountain Electric would be the providers most affected. They both lobbied against the change. Eligible renewable-energy resources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass facilities that burn nontoxic plants, landfill gas, animal waste, hydropower, recycled energy, and fuel cells using hydrogen derived from eligible renewables. There is a distributed generation clause in the bill that encourages co-ops to procure energy from smaller energy projects at a local level.

Xcel Energy, which serves the bigger markets in Colorado, is required to procure 30 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 and is on track to meet that goal early.

Colorado was the first state to create an RPS by ballot initiative when voters approved Amendment 37 in November 2004.

“We certainly have more of a progressive history of encouraging renewable energy,” said the Conservation Colorado spokesman.

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