Fossil fuel and free market advocates weren’t able to get rid of Colorado’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) as they’d hoped. Instead the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado upheld the voter-passed mandate from 2004. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) called the ruling precedent setting since the court found the RPS does not impose unlawful regulations on out-of-state companies or harm interstate commerce.
Colorado’s current RPS requires investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy—the state’s largest utility—to source 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. When voters originally approved the RPS in 2004 it was the first state to pass such a mandate into law. It was expanded from a 10 percent requirement in 2010.“Because electricity can go anywhere on the grid and come from anywhere on the grid, and because Colorado is a net importer of electricity, Colorado’s renewable energy mandate became a ‘target’ for people and groups hoping to freeze or rollback RPS programs—not only in Colorado, but also in other states around the nation,” said SEIA President CEO Rhone Resch. The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), which has ties to the coal industry, had argued that out-of-state companies were unfairly and adversely impacted by RPS’s impacting interstate commerce.
“By ruling on the substance of the issue, we believe the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision sends a clear signal that renewable energy standards are, in fact, legal under the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. We applaud the court for its clear guidance,” Resch said.
“This is a landmark day. This ruling affirms the ability of states to choose their own energy future as part of a national framework and interstate commerce,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “The nation’s 29 renewable energy standards continue to play a important role in diversifying the country’s electricity portfolio’s in order to advance key public policy interests—including protecting consumers against fuel-price risk, improving overall system reliability and creating significant clean air and water benefits such as reducing carbon pollution and conserving fresh water.”
"The Court has reaffirmed that Colorado's renewable energy standard is within the state’s constitutional powers," said Sarah Propst, Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance. "The wind and solar industries have responded to Colorado's supportive policy environment by investing over $4.5 billion dollars of private capital in generation projects, manufacturing plants, and supply chain operations. This decision validates Colorado's move toward clean energy."
The fossil fuel industry and its advocates, have tried to fight RPS’s in numerous ways. But their arguments lack strength. For instance, in the past they argued that renewable energy costs too much. Yet with Colorado’s RPS it still enjoys some of the lowest-cost electric in the U.S.Tweet