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Renewable energy goals within reach for Colorado Springs Utilities

Posted at 7:38 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 00:25:16-05

COLORADO SPRINGS – Leaders at Colorado Springs Utilities are looking to the future, preparing a New Energy Vision plan for the coming decades. At a policy advisory meeting Wednesday, the municipal utility provider revealed just how close it is to reaching many of the benchmarks set under the current energy plan adopted in 2011.

By next year, 20 percent all electric energy consumed in Colorado Springs will from renewable sources. Two solar energy projects underway this year will help reach that goal.  Work has begun on a 95-megawatt solar farm south of Fountain and plans for a 150-megawatt solar field and battery array project are currently in the contracting process.

“A big announcement is coming in the months ahead once we determine an intent to award,” said spokeswoman Amy Trinidad.

Utility customers are also nearing a major conservation goal of reducing power demand by 12 percent.  Home and commercial solar installations are a big part of that.

“We have seen record numbers of solar installation in 2018 and we expect to go past that number, maybe up to 1,000 residents this year,” Trinidad said.

Solar broker Tanya Van Rickley of Green Living Partners said it can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 to install rooftop solar power on your home. Federal tax credits pay for up to 30 percent of that cost. Rebates from Colorado Springs Utilities can push the savings even higher.

“Solar is easier today than it has ever been because we have zero down payment options, financing is there, the process is extremely simple,” Van Rickley said.

But that federal Investment Tax Credit will drop next year to 26 percent. It will drop again to 21 percent the following year before terminating altogether. Van Rickley believes the pending expiration of incentives is driving up demand for home solar.

Trinidad said CSU wants to build on these achievements and they’re looking for community input as they develop the next Energy Vision plan. Those goals will need to meet the existing responsibilities for safe, reliable and affordable energy production.

“Our customers are really the foundation of our energy vision and that’s why we’re asking for our customers to provide input on this vision,” she said.

An open house meeting is planned for early April to gather feedback. In the meantime, you can read more about the current renewable energy and efficiency goals on their website.

The next Public Advisory Committee meeting will be held March 6 at 8:00 in the Blue River Board Room on the 5th Floor of Plaza of the Rockies, South Tower.