Environmentalists seek tax breaks for solar power, efficiency
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Environmentalists on Thursday asked lawmakers to offer tax breaks for solar power and energy efficiency, lay out a plan to keep water flowing in the state’s rivers and reward communities that reduce traffic congestion.
“This year we want to take serious action to combat global warming pollution, while increasing our energy independence and protecting our quality of life,” said Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, which says it represents 100 organizations with 150,000 members across the state.
Jones said lawmakers got a good start during the last session with laws that double the requirements for renewable energy for major utilities, protect wildlife from oil and gas developers and offer incentives for renewable energy research. She said environmentalists want to build on that momentum.
One proposal for the session, which begins Wednesday, would allow people a property-tax break to offset the cost of installing solar and wind power and making their homes energy efficient.
Another would offer a state tax credit for building homes that use renewable energy, and a third would allow the Public Utilities Commission to include utility-scale solar power plants in resource planning.
Other proposals would provide incentives for farmers to keep water in rivers to protect wildlife and for local communities to reduce traffic tie-ups.
The renewable energy tax credits could cost up to $30 million, and the traffic plan would be capped at $2 million a year under current proposals.
Jones said the plan is expensive but has benefits.
“Being green is good for the economy,” she said.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.