Colorado Energy News
Colorado Beats Five Southwest States in Support of Electric Vehicles
The Colorado legislature passed six different bills supporting electric vehicles in the 2013 session, boosting the state to an A- ranking in a report card comparison of six southwestern states’ government policies designed to push the cars from showrooms to roads.
The report card was released on May 15, the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two electric vehicle bills into law, HB1110 Special Fuel Tax & Electric Vehicle Fee and HB1247 Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credit, in a ceremony held at noon at the Loveland Water and Power Service Center.
“Due to the state’s legislative leadership and its governor, Colorado has made great strides toward more widespread adoption of electric vehicles,” said Will Toor, Director of Transportation at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “Policies are important tools for addressing barriers to EV ownership and reaping the benefits of cleaner air and much lower fuel costs.”
Colorado’s 12 policies—it has more than any of the other southwestern states—address key barriers that include higher upfront cost and limited driving range of electric vehicles (EVs).
One important policy that boosted Colorado’s score in the report card extended a robust state tax credit of up to $6,000 for EV purchasers that lowers the bottom line cost of an EV. Colorado offers one of the most generous tax credits in the nation for the purchase of EVs, with the amount of the credit based upon the capacity of the vehicle’s battery. When combined with the federal tax credit of up to $7,500, the showroom cost of the cars is comparable to that of conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles.
“The reality is that many consumers are not able or willing to pay the higher initial cost of EV ownership, so tax credits of this magnitude help level the playing field for them,” said Mike Salisbury, Transportation Program Associate at SWEEP and author of the report, “Policies to Promote Electric Vehicles in the Southwest: A State Government Report Card.”
Other policies will fund public charging stations through a small annual registration fee on EVs, allow Colorado EV owners to travel free in carpool and toll lanes, exempt EVs from emissions testing, and provide financial support for installing charging stations in public facilities and multi-family housing complexes.
A showcase of what the southwestern states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have done to promote EV ownership, the report provides a snapshot of 23 policies—almost all on the books in at least one Southwestern state—and ranks them in a point system based upon how likely they are to influence consumer purchases of PEVs.
Of the other states in the report card ranking, Arizona and Utah received “B-“ grades, Nevada and New Mexico received a “C” and “C-“ respectively, and Wyoming, with no policies, received an “F.”
Toor said there is more that all southwestern states can do to improve their scores and that the innovative policies in place across the region provide examples of what every state can do to actively support electric vehicles.
“In order to be an A+ state, you need to make a major commitment,” he said. “For instance, California has mandated that 15% of cars sold by 2025 be plug-in electric vehicles, and it has planned highway corridors lined with fast-charging stations.”
National security, air quality, and consumer cost-savings are the major benefits of EV deployment listed in the report. Electricity is produced using almost entirely domestic sources of energy, whereas about half the petroleum used by conventional vehicles is imported. As power plants switch to cleaner sources of energy such as renewables and natural gas, emissions associated with electric vehicles will be reduced correspondingly. Finally, electric vehicles have low annual operating costs: They can travel the same distance as a gasoline vehicle at the cost equivalent of $1.10 per gallon at the average residential electricity price in Colorado.
Major auto manufacturers currently offer 17 models of electric passenger vehicles, with eight more models expected to debut in 2014.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project is a public interest organization that advances energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
For More Information:
Mike Salisbury, Report Author, SWEEP: msalisbury(at)swenergy(dot)org; (720) 628-5596
Will Toor, Director of Transportation Programs, SWEEP: wtoor(at)swenergy(dot)org; (303) 477-0078 x6
Tom Hunt, Policy Programs Manager, Colorado Energy Office: tom.hunt(at)state(dot)co(dot)us; (303) 866-2594
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Interior Issues New Drilling Rule on Public Land
WASHINGTON – Last week the Obama Administration released a new rule for hydraulic fracturing operations on public lands, replacing a draft proposed last year but withdrawn amid industry complaints. The rule requires oil and gas companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the process.
Companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands will be required to disclose publicly the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations, the Obama administration said. The new “fracking” rule replaces a draft proposed last year that was withdrawn amid industry complaints that federal regulation could hinder an ongoing boom in natural gas production …
But environmental groups said the proposal was weaker than last year’s plan and represents a nearly complete capitulation to industry … MORE ...
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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