Hallelujah for renewable! | AspenTimes.com

Hallelujah for renewable!

Last month, the Rocky Mountain News quoted Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, as saying, “I think a lot of folks have gotten religion around renewable energy this year.”To that, we say hallelujah.State legislators recently handed to Gov. Bill Ritter a bill that would increase the amount of renewable energy – energy from renewable sources like the sun and wind – generated by our state’s utility companies. Colorado has always been a little ahead of the curve when it comes to renewable energy. In 2004, we were the first state to pass a ballot initiative requiring energy suppliers to get 10 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2015.House Bill 1281, awaiting the governor’s signature, would double that amount. Co-sponsored by the Roaring Fork Valley’s own senator, Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, the bill requires large utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Under the bill, rural utilities serving fewer than 40,000 customers could face a 10 percent minimum for renewable energy by 2020.Ritter made environmental concerns a major part of his platform during the 2006 election, and we urge him to follow through by signing this bill. Colorado’s Eastern Plains and the San Luis Valley are just two places where Colorado’s sun and wind can be harnessed and turned into energy. Environment Colorado has said the renewable energy industry would boost the state’s economy by $1.9 billion and create 4,100 jobs by 2020.”Think globally, act locally” will finally become a reality. The more renewable energy we can produce in our own back yard, then the more independent we’ll be from foreign oil. And perhaps we won’t have to build as many roads and punch as many holes in places like the Roan Plateau in western Garfield County.Finally, we should hardly have to mention the direct benefits of this bill to the Roaring Fork Valley. Clean, nonpolluting energy could help to slow the effects of global warming, which threatens the future of our ski resort economy. Studies Auden Schendler of the Aspen Skiing Co. cited recently predict that Aspen will warm by 6 to 14 degrees by the year 2100, depending on whether the world reduces greenhouse gas emissions.House Bill 1281 is a proactive step that will benefit the planet, our state and our ski industry.