Pueblo, Colorado is the latest in a growing list of cities that have promised to go 100% renewable in the coming years.
According to a recent article from CleanTechnica.com, the small Colorado town of about 100,000 people promises to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035. The town was once known for its steel production. It’s now a home for a growing number of wind and solar companies.
The town is fortunate to have a city council member, Larry Atencio, who is a big proponent of developing renewable energy projects. A primary motivation for him is to help the residents of Pueblo avoid their ever-increasing electricity costs. “My thinking was – they are having a hard time with their electricity bills. Their energy costs are sky high. We have the highest electricity costs in Colorado here in Pueblo. How do we relieve some of the pressure financially on low to moderate income people?” – Atencio. The resolution to get completely off of fossil fuels by 2035 was passed with a 6 to 1 approval vote in early 2017.
A primary reason for the city’s high electricity costs are connected to costs associated with the development of a natural gas plant 8 years ago. This Black Hills Energy gas plant has caused residents’ electricity bills to go up 70%.
The good news is that the actions of Black Hills Energy is actually the exception to the rule. The utility that provides electricity to Colorado’s largest metropolitan area, Xcel Energy, has been aggressively making the switch to renewables.
Atencio is also a proponent of “Community Choice Programs.” This is a type of aggregate program that has local governments choosing sources of power that takes into account pollution, economic benefit, and cost concerns on behalf of its residents.
The councilman is also aware of the powerful combination of solar plus storage. “Rooftop solar has to be considered, and storage is also coming down the pike. It’s going to be possible for an individual homeowner to get off the grid completely.”
Another great quote that really encapsulates the changing energy landscape is from Atencio as well – “The flood is coming. Renewable energy is here and its going to get bigger and better all the time. I don’t think there’s any power company out there that’s going to be able to fight the tide.”
It’s no surprise to be reporting on yet another city choosing to go “all-in” with renewable energy. Government officials and homeowners alike are crunching the numbers and coming to the same conclusions, solar power is the smart economic and ecological choice.