A campaign comprising more than 280 businesses, farmers, ranchers, local officials, civic and environmental organizations and 11,000 people called on Gov. Hickenlooper and other state leaders to support solar energy.
The campaign is called 1 Million Solar Roofs.
The campaign sets a goal of installing 3 gigawatts of solar energy in Colorado by 2030, or roughly 10 times the current installed capacity. The goal includes both rooftop solar and larger arrays.
“There’s strong public support for expanding solar in Colorado,” said Margaret McCall, energy associate with Environment Colorado, in a news release.
“We are all looking to manage and control our energy costs, to identify and opt for cleaner energy sources when possible and to harness for our family, our home, and our business the immense energy that comes from the sun,” said Jason Wiener, co-owner and general counsel for Namaste Solar. “The million solar roofs project paints the vision for where Colorado’s energy future is headed. This is the goal and therefore the challenge of our generation.”
Craig McHugh, owner of A Joyful Noise Farm in Black Forest, said, “As a small farm, we realize every day that anything we can do to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, lower our cost of doing business and reduce our footprint on this world is a good thing.”
Reaching the goal of 1 million solar roofs would displace 3.6 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year, the equivalent of taking 760,000 of today’s cars off the road, according to a news release by Environment Colorado.
With climate change contributing to drought, fire and floods in Colorado, the need to act swiftly to curb carbon emissions is growing more urgent, McCall said.
Solar electric and solar heating systems would also create economic benefits across Colorado.
“Solar thermal systems address the biggest energy load in our state: space heating and hot water heating. The [campaign’s] comprehensive objective is a big step forward in our state’s new energy strategy,” said Laurent Meillon, vice president of Capitol Solar Energy, a Castle Rock-based solar thermal business.
Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs campaign outlined state policies that must be implemented or expanded to meet the goal, McCall said. One of the most important is net metering, a policy that requires investor-owned utilities to credit customers who invest in solar panels for the excess electricity they supply the electrical grid at the retail rate.
Xcel Energy has proposed to cutting its net metering rate in half, which would mean that homeowners and businesses would receive a reduced credit for the solar energy they sell back to the grid, the news release said. Xcel has also asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to declare net metering a subsidy.