IP-3-2019 (October 2019)
Author: Grant Mandigora with contributors: David Wojick, Ph.D., Isaac Orr, Mitchell Rolling, and Brit Naas.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis wants to see a renewable energy transition within the next 20 years and has cited future savings as evidence that it should be undertaken. However, he has also failed to disclose how Colorado will see savings while building thousands of megawatts of renewable energy, hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, and hundreds of thousands of megawatt-hours of battery storage. Not to mention, Colorado residents will also have to pay for the early retirement of existing fossil-fuel power generators and wind/solar farm curtailment, siting, and decommissioning. The reality, it’s not going to be cheap.
At the Independence Institute, we are concerned about the economics of this agenda, and we believe it’s worthwhile to ask the question: how much will it cost to keep the lights on as Colorado adopts a 100 percent renewable energy standard? The Radical Reorganization of Colorado’s Electric Grid: The Cost of Keeping the Lights On quantifies the cost of this transition by pricing out what was listed in the preceding paragraph. It also maps out two different routes that would also achieve a reduction in carbon emissions. The first would be to invest in nuclear power generation. The second would be to invest in behind-the-meter storage and facilitate the adoption of microgrid technology. Both options have costs, but both options have benefits.
More than likely, there are concerns that were missed, overstated, or understated in the report. That’s okay, there are considerations and expenses with this transition that we don’t and really can’t know. Our goal was to estimate a total cost and start a conversation about the merits of and alternative routes to reducing the power sector’s carbon footprint. As elected officials begin to consider revolutionizing the way in which Colorado is powered, we hope this report serves as resource for the citizens who want to learn more and are concerned about this complete reorganization of Colorado’s energy portfolio.