Colorado Enacts Law Replacing Coal Power with Cleaner Energy

Colorado Enacts Law Replacing Coal Power with Cleaner Energy

DENVER, Colorado, April 19, 2010 (ENS) – Colorado Governor Bill Ritter today signed into law the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, legislation that requires the utility Xcel to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 percent from several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, most likely sooner.

Xcel will work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit a plan to the Public Utilities Commission by August 15, detailing how it will retire or retrofit 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity.

Xcel will give primary consideration to replacing or repowering those plants with natural gas, renewables, greater efficiencies and other cleaner energy sources.

“This law is a template for tomorrow that allows us to transform our energy portfolio, our economy and our environment by working strategically and collaboratively,” Governor Ritter said.

“By shifting our oldest and least efficient coal plants to cleaner, Colorado-produced natural gas, we send a strong message to the rest of the country that we absolutely can cut air pollution and protect public health while also creating jobs and protecting ratepayers.”

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signs the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act into law. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Governor Ritter was joined at the Capitol signing ceremony by members of a broad coalition that supported House Bill 1365, including Xcel Energy Chairman and CEO Dick Kelly, lawmakers, power producers and conservationists.

“This law gives us a great opportunity to address the issues of regional haze and ozone in a comprehensive fashion, with some certainty for our customers,” said Kelly.

The federal Clean Air Act requires Colorado to submit a plan to address regional haze by early next year or the EPA will write its own plan for Colorado.

The Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, HB 1365, will allow investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to help craft their own plans for how to meet new regional haze guidelines, as well as new mandates for ozone, mercury and carbon dioxide in one comprehensive analysis that will minimize costs and maximize emissions reductions.

Governor Ritter said the law will help the state “comply with looming federal clean air standards in a way that is pro-active and makes sense for Colorado.”

“By using Colorado-produced, homegrown energy sources, we will jumpstart our natural gas sector the same we are driving Colorado’s solar and wind industries,” the governor said.

“This bill has national implications,” said state Representative Judy Solano, a Democrat who is one of the bill’s main sponsors. “Robert Kennedy Jr. has said this bill will be a model for other states and for Congress.

“The bottom line is that we’re not waiting for Washington’s federal regulations,” said Solano. “We are solving the problem on our own, on Colorado terms – today.”

“With the signing of HB 1365, Colorado is creating jobs by phasing out older technology and replacing it with cleaner burning energy sources,” said state Senator Bruce Whitehead, a Democrat. “This will not happen overnight, but this is a necessary step towards building Colorado’s economy and improving Colorado’s air quality for future generations.”

“More drilling, less federal intrusion in Colorado – that’s the reason so many Republicans supported this bipartisan compromise,” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry. “It was a pleasure to work with Governor Ritter on this important public policy victory.”

Environmentalists say the new law is a move in the right direction. “This is an important step toward securing the clean energy economy that will power the future of our country,” said Roger Singer, regional representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

“This bill is proof we can create good jobs through the development of the same clean energy technologies that will transition our country away from coal,” said Singer. “This bill will hopefully serve as a model for state legislatures across the country to create jobs by taking on the serious problems presented by coal-fired power.”

“This legislation is a badly needed breath of fresh air in the effort to move Colorado away from coal and toward a cleaner and healthier energy future,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters. “Thanks to unlikely allies working together, including environmentalists, natural gas companies, utilities, Republicans and Democrats, Coloradans can all breathe easier today.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.

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