November 2021
With the COP26 climate conference in full swing and negotiations continuing in Washington D.C. on the "Build Back Better'' package, the complexity of taking rapid steps towards averting the worst of the climate crisis is on full display. The gaps between making promises and pledges and actually reducing emissions in the dramatic way our planet needs is enough to make Greta Thunberg and her allies chant "No More Blah Blah Blah'' in Glasgow.
Here in Colorado, making energy policy and change is no less complicated. Much of the action takes place at the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates for-profit utilities. Every four years, the utility proposes what resources it intends to acquire over the coming decade and then the plans are thrashed out in a lengthy process, in which interested groups can intervene and weigh in with proposed changes. The action is nearing a critical point and this month, we take a look at what's proposed and how you can get involved.
Sunny regards,
Rebecca Cantwell 
for New Energy Colorado
Xcel Proposes Move from Fossils- But Is Progress Quick Enough?

Xcel Energy – Colorado's largest utility- filed its plans to move away from coal and towards wind, solar and battery storage earlier this year. Through the 2021 Electric Resource Plan (Proceeding 21A-0141E), regulators are evaluating the utility’s proposals. Many other interested groups are weighing in, either as formal intervenors, or providing public comments - so there is a role for everyone. A public hearing on December 2 is an especially important opportunity. 
Xcel currently uses about 40 percent renewable energy, and burns coal and natural gas for the rest. Xcel proposed a plan last spring that it claims will lead to an 85 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 by acquiring:
  • 2,300 MW of wind
  • 1,600 MW of large scale solar
  • 400 MW of battery storage
  • 1,300 MW of dispatchable resources ( expected to be natural gas and coal)
  • 1,200 MW of distributed solar resources
The plan also outlines what Xcel intends to do with its coal plants, including converting Pawnee to natural gas by 2028, retiring Craig and Hayden by 2028, and allowing Comanche 3 to run at most 33% of the time between 2030 and 2040, then retiring its newest problem-plagued coal plant.
A hearing is scheduled to run for up to eight days in December, starting December 6.
Clean Energy Advocates Seek Improvements
A variety of groups have filed thousands of pages of "answer testimony'' explaining how they believe Xcel's plan can be improved. A hearing in December will examine the arguments. Here are some key points :
Colorado Renewable Energy Society
CRES argues that the critical nature of the climate emergency requires a more rapid move from all fossil fuels and quick transitions to electrify transportation and buildings. Electric vehicle charging could contribute more if done more intelligently when solar is abundant. The health and environmental costs of methane pollution must be considered before proceeding with more natural gas plants. And fossil fuels can be made unnecessary through better use of distributed resources including solar and demand response to shave peak energy use, the group argues.
Colorado Solar and Storage Association
COSSA and the national Solar Energy Industries Association are concerned that some of Xcel's assumptions will make it more difficult for independent energy developers to compete with the monopoly utility when it comes time to bid to build new energy facilities. The groups also think that energy storage will play a bigger role than the utility forecasts, and that hybrid proposals (such as solar and storage) should be expected to play a bigger role.
Western Resource Advocates
WRA wants Comanche 3 to be retired by 2030 and decisions on new natural gas plants to be postponed. In its seven-page summary of recommendations, the group also wants a number of modeling assumptions changed. WRA wants a bigger role for electrified buildings and electric vehicles, and wants regulators to account for the cost of pollution in making decisions about fossil fuel energy.

How You Can Weigh In
The Sierra Club and are asking concerned citizens to get involved:
1.  Send the Public Utilities Commission a one-click letter to emphasize how Xcel’s ERP could be improved.
2.  Attend — and give public comment – at the Public Utilities Commission Public Hearing via Zoom on December 2 from 4-7 pm. More info here
3.  Join 350 Colorado and the Sierra Club to phonebank for clean energy, notifying local communities about Xcel’s ERP and how they can get involved in the decision-making process: every Wednesday from 6-8 pm until December 2.
Visit The Virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour
Learn ways to save energy and money in your own home by taking our Virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.

Watch videos that showcase how your neighbors have used energy efficiency measures such as insulation and air sealing to make homes less leaky. See how homeowners have added solar energy and heat pumps to transition from polluting methane gas to clean electricity. Enjoy a variety of water-wise landscapes.

If you want to learn more about how to save money on your energy and water bills, please visit the virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.

Join Our Community and Take Action!
Solar CitiSuns are people who want to join together to help transform the energy landscape by advocating for solar energy and other clean energy sources for the future. It is free, quick and easy to sign up! By joining our community, you can keep informed and join others in taking action.

Please follow our Facebook Page, and share this email with your friends and colleagues, and on social media using the links below. We are stronger together!
Upcoming Events
The virtual summit is designed for utilities across the Mountain West to get solutions. Decision makers and technical experts such as energy management specialists, business development specialists, and power supply managers are all encouraged to attend. Problem solvers from across the solar and storage industry are invited to help assist with the day-long event sponsored by the Colorado Solar and Storage Association. Information: Clean Energy Solutions Summit

November 18 – 7 pm MDCRES
Join Manik Roy, Climate Change and Environmental Policy Director for Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), for an update on the climate agenda of President Biden and Congress and on Rep. DeGette’s work.

Heart of a Building: Rocky Mountain PBS will air and stream episodes of “Heart of a Building’’ which show inspiring stories about how buildings can help combat climate change. See:
 Coming up are:
·        Nantes Library a near Passive House compliant public library in Gilcrest, CO (Weld County) (to air/begin streaming on 11/14 at 10am) and
·        L’Avenir project net-zero/zero emission/LEED Platinum townhome project in Ft. Collins (to air/begin streaming on 11/21 at 10am). 

November 30: 7pm JCRES in person
Making Energy Retrofits Your New Year’s Resolution
Learn what you can do in your own home to save energy and money.

New Denver Solar Co-op launching
The City and County of Denver and the nonprofit organization Solar United Neighbors have partnered to launch the next Denver Solar Co-op. Residents and business owners who want to enjoy a simple process for going solar and save extra money can go together as a group. Income-qualifying members can also receive a $3,000 rebate off the cost of going solar! Learn more and sign-up:

Three Stories We Think You'll Want to Read

Energy Tips: From Cheap to Steep
With heating bills expected to rise this winter, an important way to learn about your patterns of energy use is to plot your usage.
CHEAP: Each month, download your bills from your utility company and create your own table and graphs that dissect all the parts of your bill and then watch the patterns and see what you can control.
STEEP: Once you are aware of your consumption, start to spend money to save money later by taking steps to lower your bills. Insulation is often the most cost-effective measure. Replacing old appliances and windows, and adding your own solar electric panels may be more cost effective than you think.