Colorado’s Plans For Zero Carbon Emissions

The current population of the state of Colorado is estimated to be 5.77 million people. In May 2019, state utilities used coal (41.0%), renewable energy (29.7%) and natural gas (29.3%) to generate electricity. Currently, wind, solar, hydropower and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Colorado.

Colorado’s use of renewable energy and natural gas offsets the high cost of coal to keep electricity prices below the national average in the United States. In May 2019, the average price of electricity in Colorado was 12.0 ¢ per kWh, which is the 19th lowest price of any state in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 13.3 ¢ per kWh.

Concerns over climate change have prompted Colorado to take action to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado is one of thirty states that has an enforceable statewide renewable portfolio standard. The standard requires that 30% of the electricity sold by investor utilities in the state comes from renewable sources by 2030.

On May 30, 2019, Colorado Governor, Jared Polis signed several climate, energy and electric vehicle (EV) bills to accelerate the state’s move to 100% renewable energy by 2040. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has now approved zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Colorado’s ZEV program is designed to remove 200,000 internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) by 2025, which will eliminate approximately one million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year in the state. Colorado joins California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont in adopting ZEV mandates.

Over 90% of the greenhouse gases in the United States are generated from the transportation (28.9%), electricity generation (27.5%), industry (22.2%) and commercial & residential (11.6%) sectors. Currently, Colorado generates over 70% of their electricity from coal and natural gas.

An EV that is charged by a coal-fired power plant will generate similar amounts of greenhouse gases as an ICEV fueled by gasoline or diesel. To significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, Colorado must first replace the coal-fired power plants with renewable energy or you are putting the cart before the horse.

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