Colorado Energy News
500 Kilowatt Solar Project in Boulder Completed
The Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array is the first community solar project completed under Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program, under which any utility ratepayer can directly purchase energy from a “solar garden” and immediately save money on monthly electricity bills.
REC Solar designed and built the array, while Clean Energy Collective (CEC) will operate and maintain the system. REC Solar has additional Solar*Rewards
Community projects under development and construction
for completion later this year.
“This innovative model expands solar access to all Xcel Energy customers who are interested in the carbon-reducing and cost-savings benefits of solar, regardless of location or income,” said Andy Noel, Director of Utility Scale EPC at REC Solar. “The program’s popularity demonstrates widespread interest from Colorado consumers and businesses in accessing affordable solar power.”
Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program extends the cost-savings benefits of renewable energy to many groups who previously could not go solar, including renters, those with shaded properties, and residents without the financial means to purchase or finance an array. Homeowners and businesses can now purchase as little as one kilowatt or enough to power their entire electricity load. The Boulder community solar array remains open to subscribers interested in cutting electricity costs; click here for more information on how to subscribe.
“REC Solar’s experience in Colorado and know-how in planning, designing and constructing utility systems has been instrumental to the success of this project,” said Tom Sweeney, chief operating officer of CEC. “We look forward to working together to build additional community-owned solar arrays to meet the strong demand for solar across the state.”
Colorado Renewable Energy Bill Gets Call for Veto From GOP Lawmakers
About a dozen Republican legislators met on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday to call for a veto on the rural renewable energy bill, arguing that it, along with gun-control bills passed earlier this year, are an attack on rural Colorado.
Senate Bill 252, which passed May 1, requires the state’s rural-based nonprofit energy cooperatives to increase the amount of renewable energy offered to 20 percent by 2020. It’s a requirement that, according to opponents, places an unfair burden on the state’s rural communities, which get much of their power from cheaper coal.
“We have ranchers and farmers all across the state who right now are also nonprofit, and they’ve been nonprofit for the last five years,” said Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction. “They are just barely hanging on.” MORE …
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Regional Update: “Orphaned” Oil and Gas Wells on the Rise in Wyoming
Originally published May 9, 2013
Oil and gas companies are walking away from non-productive or marginally-commercial wells
at an increasing rate here in Wyoming.
By Dustin Bleizeffer/Wyofile.com
There are some 1,200 “orphaned” wells in Wyoming that have not been properly plugged and reclaimed, creating potential risks to the environment and human health, according to Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission data. One case involving California-based USA Exploration & Production involves nearly 150 coal-bed methane gas wells for the state to clean up at an estimated cost of $1.4 million.
The state collected only $154,000 in forfeited bonds posted by the company, and it will go to the orphaned well fund to cover the rest of the plugging and reclamation cost.
Contacted by WyoFile this week, state officials were not able to provide full details about the health of the orphaned well fund, or about the full liability related to the total 1,200 orphaned oil and gas wells across the state.
Wyoming’s orphaned wells are a topic before the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee when it begins its two-day hearing Tuesday in Gillette.
The orphan well fund comes from a “conservation tax” mill levy imposed on all oil and gas producers in the state. This time last year, the fund’s balance was $1 million. The commission’s board can vote to increase the mill levy if it appears in danger of being tapped dry. MORE …
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Colorado Springs Group Sues to Allow Vote on Fracking Ban
Reported by Ned Hunter, Colorado Springs Gazette
COLORADO SPRINGS —A citizens group said Thursday that it has sued the city of Colorado Springs in an effort to move forward a petition to amend the City Charter to ban oil and gas drilling and fracking in the city.
The Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed the lawsuit in 4th Judicial District Court in response to the city’s Initiative Title Setting Review Board’s refusal to affix a title to the petition. The title is needed before signatures can be gathered; the board rejected the petition, saying it violates the city’s single-subject rule.
The proposed charter amendment, which the group wants to see on the November ballot, would prohibit any company from engaging ‘in the extraction of natural gas or oil, ‘ including the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. MORE …
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Vestas Has Dismal First Quarter
Vestas Wind Systems released its Q1 financial condition and the patient is not a picture of robust health, to say the least.
The arrows pointed down for the Danish company, which has four manufacturing plants in Colorado. This includes a 34 percent decrease in production, a 26 percent decrease in deliveries, a 1 percent reduction in revenue, and a 24 percent decrease in employees since the first of the year.
Most illustrative of the continued slump the bellweather company for Colorado’s New Energy Economy is experiencing: It didn’t deliver a single machine to a U.S. wind farm during first quarter of this year, according to the company’s financial report.
Overall, the global company’s net loss in the first quarter of the year was 151 million euros, or $198 million in U.S currency. The drop is less than last year, according to Vestas. In 2012 it lost 162 million euros, which extended to a loss of 963 million euros by the end of the year. The domestic wind industry has said repeatedly that the financial problems plaguing the Danish company and its brethren were caused in large part because of the uncertainity of the PTC extension. Washington finally granted the extension, but the U.S. wind slump continues, as this latest reporting from Vestas clearly illustrates.
All that said, the company insists that it is on the right track to better financial health because of strong internal measures that have been undertaken.
Sponsor Pulls Higher Oil and Gas Fines Bill
The legislation would have increased Colorado’s maximum fines on oil and gas violations for the first time in nearly 60 years. But Wednesday the lawmaker decided to drop it rather than to pass a version that does not include minimum fines on significant spills, as the state Senate had insisted.
While the self-imposed defeat of House Bill 1267 on the final day of the 2013 legislative session may look like a winner for the oil and gas industry, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) said it was unhappy about the bill’s death.
COGA supported the removal of the mandatory minimum fines but had not opposed the increase of maximum daily fines from $1,000 to $15,000 — the first such increase since 1955. However, it also said, in effect, that the maximum “all or nothing” approach was not a solution.
“That’s disappointing. They decided to have no increase in fines rather than the little sliver that they wanted,” said Doug Flanders, COGA director of policy and external affairs. “We were happy to see it come through. But the decision of the House will extend the 50 years of no new fines.”
Read the full COGA statement here.
Shortly after the legislative initiative died, Gov. Hickenlooper ordered state energy regulators to review how they impose fines in the wake of complaints that fines are too often reduced.
Hickenlooper signed the order that the bill without minimum fines for violations that significantly impact public health and safety would have been a “paper tiger” because the oil and gas commission won’t impose maximum fines on the worst offenders.
CSU Database Tracks Energy Legislation Nationwide
FORT COLLINS – Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) today announced the rollout of the Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker – a new online database of energy-related state legislation pending in all 50 states.
The information will range from solar to natural gas and everything in between. This first-of-its-kind database, created in partnership with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), will also enable CNEE to conduct analysis of trends in state energy legislation.
Today, state legislatures are considering more than 2,100 bills that could change the way Americans produce, buy and use energy. AEL Tracker identifies all those measures and monitors the progress of many advanced energy bills as they move forward.
“If we look at where the country is going on advanced energy policy, overwhelmingly that transition is being led by states,” said Bill Ritter, Jr., director of CNEE and former governor of Colorado. “To get the pulse of where the country is going we need to understand what the states are doing. AEL Tracker brings together information on energy-related legislation in all 50 states, in a form that is easily accessible not only to lawmakers at all levels of government, but to academics, analysts, environmentalists, funders, business leaders and the general public. It will allow our Center to conduct critical academic analysis of issues related to energy legislation nationwide.”
Based on information available only in AEL Tracker:
• Nearly 25 percent of pending state energy legislation call for new financing tools – including tax incentives – for the installation of energy facilities;
• Roughly 21 percent of pending bills promote development of clean energy sources; and
• About 8 percent encourages adoption of energy-efficient appliances, building codes and practices – the low-hanging fruit in America’s energy supply chain.
The Center’s first trend analysis,“Rediscovering the First Fuel,” is on energy efficiency. The Center expects to publish two to three trend analyses per month and will next publish a white paper on financing of advanced energy.
The database has been developed in collaboration with Advanced Energy Economy, a national business organization representing the entire advanced energy industry, from wind, hydro, solar, and natural gas to efficiency and electric vehicles.
“This online database provides information on critical state legislation that is available nowhere else,” said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. “AEL Tracker is a nonpartisan tool that allows researchers, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens to follow and analyze advanced energy legislation, individually and in aggregate. We hope this unique database will increase awareness of advanced energy and the way state action can unleash its economic potential for the United States.”
Both Richard and Ritter shared additional views in videos that can be found on the AEL Tracker website: www.aeltracker.org.
CNEE operates the database on the Fort Collins campus of Colorado State University, a land-grant university with a long history of cutting-edge research into natural gas emissions and renewable energy, water resources and the environment. The university provides credible, multi-disciplinary solutions to the complexities facing America’s energy industries.
Hickenlooper Gets Dems to Flip, Kills Two Bills to Regulate Oil and Gas
Two more pieces of the Democratic oil and gas legislation package are dead, and they never really had a chance.
It’s been known for weeks that House Bill 1316, which would require oil and gas companies in the Greater Wattenburg Area to abide by the same groundwater testing regimes as the rest of the state, didn’t have much of a chance to pass the Senate …
Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, opposed the measure outright, arguing that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had voted unanimously in favor of the new water testing rules last year, rules he’s since heralded as the strongest and best in the country.
Environmental groups, irked by Hickenlooper’s opposition to much of their oil and gas legislation, noted that if the rule was indeed as strong as the governor says it is, the Greater Wattenburg Area should have to abide by it as well. MORE …
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Denver Named #3 Oil and Gas City in the World
Denver has been judged to be the No. 3 in the world with the brightest future for oil and gas industry careers, according to a new survey by Rigzone, a Houston-based company that tracks the industry’s employment and rig numbers.
Rigzone surveyed almost 8,000 oil and gas professionals to determine its rankings, released Monday. Here is the summary from RigZone about our Mile High City:
While gold mining brought the first settlers to Denver, companies that are part of the air transportation, telecommunications, aerospace, and manufacturing industries are also found in Denver today. A number of oil and gas companies are also present in Denver, including Halliburton, Noble Energy Inc., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., EnCana Corp., EOG Resources Inc., and GE Oil & Gas.
Innovation in multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology has allowed the oil and gas industry to begin exploring Colorado’s unconventional resources. These resources include shale and tight sands within three basins. Of these plays, the Niobrara currently is the most active, according to a report by the Institute for 21st Century Energy. Some analysts have estimated the Niobrara, which is mainly a liquids-rich play, to hold reserves of approximately 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves, according to the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.
Unconventional oil and gas activity in Colorado created 77,600 jobs in the state in 2012, according to the second part of a report by the Institute for 21st Century Energy into the impact of unconventional resources on the U.S. economy. The number of jobs in Colorado supported by shale activity will grow to 121,398 in 2020 and 175,363 in 2035. Unconventional oil and gas activity contributed value-added economic activity of more than $11 billion in Colorado last year; that contribution is estimated to grow to more than $26 billion by 2035.
The nine-county Metro Denver and northern Colorado region ranked fourth for fossil fuel energy employment and seventh among the nation’s 50 largest metros for clean technology development concentration in 2012, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The energy industry cluster employs more than 44,000 people in the area, and the state of Colorado ranked tenth in fossil fuel energy jobs. Energy research centers and universities such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Colorado School of Mines are also found in the Denver area.
The energy industry not only has impacted Denver’s economy in real life, but in prime time as well – the popular 1980s TV soap opera, “Dynasty” followed the lives of a wealthy oil family living in Denver.
Association Profile: Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development
Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development
The Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development (CREED) is a research partnership among the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Colorado’s premier research universities — Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
CREED works with public agencies, private enterprise, nonprofit institutions and all of Colorado’s universities and colleges to:
- Increase the production and use of energy from renewable resources like wind energy, solar energy, and biofuels
- Support economic growth in Colorado and the nation with renewable energy industries
- Build a renewable energy economy in rural Colorado and rural America
- Establish Colorado as America’s leading center of renewable energy research and production
- Educate our nation’s finest energy researchers, technicians and work force
CREED currently has three centers:
- Colorado Center for BioFuels and BioRefining (C2B2): Mines Lead – John Dorgan
C2B2 is a cooperative research and educational center devoted to the conversion of biomass to fuels and other products. C2B2 exists to improve fundamental understanding and develop new technologies in areas relevant to the future commercialization of integrated, sustainable biorefining and biofuels processes.
- Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion (CRSP): Director – Colin Wolden
CRSP is dedicated to the basic and applied research necessary to create revolutionary new solar energy technologies as well as education and training opportunities. The research underpins renewable energy technologies, commonly called third generation solar photon conversion, for the highly-efficient and cost-competitive production of both electricity and fuels via direct solar processes.CRSP institutions make available their capabilities for shared and sponsored research projects with CRSP members as well as for federally funded research. CRSP company members play an important role in the center—membership allows companies and other organizations to learn about and participate in advances in solar cell science and technology. The areas of research being pursued include photovoltaics (inorganic and organic), photophysics, photoelectrochemistry, photochemistry, photobiology and nanoscience.
- Collaborative Research and Education in Wind (CREW): Director – Mandy Hering
CREW advances the science of wind power. CREW’s scientists, researchers, and laboratories work to make wind power more accessible by reducing costs and increasing reliability and efficiencies. CREW’s research will advance wind technology on many fronts—scientific, technological, regulatory, and political.CREW is structured to reach these goals by: offering wind industry companies access to four powerful research institutions through a single point of contact; conducting both shared “pre-competitive” research and sponsored proprietary research programs; teaming up with other public and private research efforts and creating educational programs that support wind industry research, outreach, professional and technical training.
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