Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Road to the Colorado GEO’s STAR Report

The Strategic Transmission and Renewables (STAR) report is the fifth in a series of reports created under Governor Ritter's administration and provides context to new laws. These reports have been used to form policy recommendations as they relate to Colorado's electricity sector. Governor Ritter introduced Colorado's New Energy Economy in the first report entitled "Governor's Climate Action Plan" (CAP).

• CAP report released in November 2007: The plan details the actions that will move the state towards its goal of reducing emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The report focused in part on the need for energy conservation, efficiency and the need for more transmission capacity to support integration of renewable energy.

• SB91 Report released in December 2007: The Governor's Energy Office (GEO) followed the CAP report with release of the SB91 Report of the Renewable Resource Generation Development Area Task Force. The report focused on defining Colorado's capacity for renewable energy generation to support electric power in the state. The Task force designated 10 Colorado Generation Development Areas (GDAs) having the capacity to produce more than 1,000 MW. According to the report, the GDAs have a capacity of more than 96,000 MW of wind generation and 26,000 MW of solar generation. The report also noted the need for extra-high voltage transmission to accommodate the energy generated in the GDAs.

• REDI Report released December 2009: The SB91 report was followed by release of the Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure (REDI) report Connecting Colorado's Renewable Resources to the Markets in a Carbon-Constrained Electric Power Sector. The focus of the REDI report was to provide details regarding how the state can reach its goal of 20% reduction in the sector's CO2 emissions by 2020, the 20x20 goal. The report demonstrated that under current policies, Colorado's electricity sector is not on track to reach the 20x20 goal. The report emphasized the need for demand-side management, energy efficiency, utility scale renewable energy development, development of extra-high voltage transmission, strategic use of natural-gas fired generation for baseload support of the grid, and decreased utilization of coal-fired generation.

• 2010 Colorado Utilities Report released August 2010: The report provides a picture of the network of generation resources, operating data and the structure that governs the 65 electric and gas utilities in Colorado. The report cited two main challenges to increasing integration of renewable energy: transmission and permitting.


Substantive steps towards implementation of some of the policies recommended in this series of reports were taken with passage of two new electricity sector laws: (1) the 30% Renewable Energy Standard (RES) by 2020 requiring Colorado's investor owned utilities to reach 30% renewables by 2020; and (2) the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act aimed at reducing emissions in the electricity sector. The STAR report highlights these pieces of legislation as key to meeting the 20x20 goal as defined in the CAP report. The focus of the STAR report is an analysis relating to strategies to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.


"To achieve the 80x50 goal will require the maximum potential operational penetration of utility-scale renewable energy, with a complementary expansion of natural gas-fired generation to integrate naturally variable renewables, and the capability of ramping up to meet a growing load as it grows." STAR report at pg. 13.


While the increased RES and the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act were substantive steps, there are additional statutory changes necessary to drive utility scale renewable energy development and facilitate construction of the extra-high voltage transmission necessary to support that development. The STAR report introduces these challenges and all of these reports can be found on the GEOs website:

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