Huffpost Denver

Colorado Democrats Want To Raise Bar For Renewable Energy

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DENVER — Colorado Democratic state lawmakers want to increase the amount of electricity coming from renewable sources, saying the move will help the environment and create jobs.

Under current law, investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy must get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar energy by 2020. Gov. Bill Ritter announced Tuesday that he is backing planned legislation requiring them to hit 30 percent over the next 10 years instead.

Democratic state Sens. Gail Schwartz and Bruce Whitehead plan to introduce the bill in the new legislative session, which starts Wednesday.

Rural electric associations must produce 10 percent of their energy by 2020 and the bill as proposed wouldn't change that.

Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest provider of electricity, said its current compliance plan will put it close to 30 percent.

Company spokesman Mark Stutz said the utility is willing to entertain raising the standard if customers continue to be protected from big price increases. Currently, utilities can't charge customers more than 2 percent of their monthly bill to pay for their increased use of renewable energy.

"As long as the cap on increased costs remains in place as protection for our customers, we are willing to consider increasing the standard," he said.