Colorado’s Clean Energy Potential Reaches New Heights — E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs)

From E2:

Colorado is leading the Mountain West’s clean energy economy.

With nearly 60,000 clean energy workers now, the state’s potential reached new heights in 2018 with strong employment growth across cleantech sectors (4.8%)—far outpacing overall national (1.5%) and statewide (2.4%) job growth.

According to Clean Jobs Colorado 2019 (downloadable PDF) report, Colorado’s is now among the top 10 states for jobs in three sectors: wind energy (3rd), bioenergy (9th), and overall renewable energy (6th). The state fell just outside the Top 10 in solar energy (11th). However, the majority of Colorado’s clean energy job growth came from energy efficiency and clean vehicles, which grew 7.2% and 22.5%respectively.

Analyzing the state geographically,the employment analysis found that while Denver and Boulder accounted for nearly one out of every three clean jobs in the state, about 20 percent (29,000) are in areas outside the Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins metro areas. Additionally, all 64 counties in the state are home to clean energy workers, with 11 counties supporting at least 1,100. Denver led all counties with more than 13,200 jobs, followed by Arapahoe (7,600) and Jefferson (5,800) counties. By density, Jackson, Denver, and Boulder counties led the state in clean jobs per 1,000 employable residents. All 64 counties in Colorado are home to clean energy workers, with 11 counties supporting over 1,000 jobs.

Smart policies such as the Zero-Emission Vehicle standards adopted by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission in August and Gov. Polis’ roadmap to 100% renewable energy will help ensure that Colorado’s clean energy economy keeps growing. And businesses have noticed, with Colorado clean energy employers predicting they’ll add jobs more than twice as fast in 2019 (10.3%) as 2018.

Colorado Job Sector Toplines

  • Energy Efficiency – 34,342 jobs
  • Renewable Energy – 17,073 jobs
  • Solar Energy – 7,775 jobs
  • Wind Energy – 7,318 jobs
  • Clean Vehicles – 3,323 jobs
  • Biofuels – 2,045 jobs
  • Energy Storage – 1,692 jobs
  • Grid Modernization – 1,272 jobs
  • ALL Clean Energy Sectors – 59,666 jobs
  • Other Highlights from 2018

  • Clean energy jobs also now employ 26,000 more workers than the state’s entire fossil fuel industry (10,022)
  • 8,100 workers Coloradans located in rural areas work in clean energy
  • 64% of clean energy workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 20 total employees
  • Colorado clean energy employers are projecting 10.3% employment growth for 2019.
  • Construction (37.6%) and professional services (40.7%) make up the majority of clean energy jobs.
  • 9.6% of Coloradans employed in clean energy are veterans
  • Denver led all counties in Colorado with 13,200 jobs, followed by Arapahoe (7,600) and Jefferson (5,868) counties
  • Aspinall Unit operations update: Blue Mesa Reservoir within one foot of icing target

    From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

    Releases from the Aspinall Unit were decreased to 1100 cfs on Thursday, January 2nd. Blue Mesa Reservoir elevation ended the year within a foot of the icing target. Releases will be maintained at this level for the near future with possible adjustments made when new runoff forecast information becomes available. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

    Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for January through March.

    Currently, there are no diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 1100 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

    Blue Mesa Reservoir

    The latest “The Current” newsletter is hot off the presses from the #EagleRiver Watershed Council

    Photo credit: Eagle River Watershed Council

    Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

    Cloud Seeding Discussion with Colorado River District

    A big thank you to our presenters, Dave Kanzer with the Colorado River District and Eric Hjermstad with Western Weather Consultants for a great community discussion. We had about 50 folks join us at Loaded Joe’s to learn about the weather modification tool being implemented locally.

    Missed it? You can watch a recorded version here thanks to High Five Access Media and the underwriting of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District!

    Cloud-seeding graphic via Science Matters

    #Snowpack news: #Aspen ~51% above average

    From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

    Snowfall in Aspen is pacing well ahead of average this ski season thanks to a big opening blast in October and above-averages dumps in December.

    The Aspen Water Treatment Plant recorded 84.70 inches of snowfall for October through December, according to the monthly weather reports. That is 28.45 inches or 51% above the average of 56.25 inches, according to the water department’s records.

    Each month has been well above average at the plant, which is situated at 8,161 feet, slightly above downtown Aspen’s elevation. The cold-weather months started with a bang when 26.70 inches of snow fell in October. The average is 9.20 inches.

    November was closer to typical conditions when 23.50 inches fell, the water department reported. The average snowfall for the month is 21.90 inches.

    December kept the trend going with 34.50 inches of snowfall, well above the average of 25.15 inches.

    None of the months came close to breaking a record for snowfall. The December record, for example, is 72 inches in 1983.

    More snowfall than usual at the 8,100-foot level hasn’t translated into a significantly higher snowpack than average at higher elevations. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen is at 107% of median as of Friday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency that has automated snow telemetry sites scattered around the Roaring Fork watershed.

    The snowpack at the Independence Pass site was at 7.7 inches of snow water equivalent — the amount of water produced when the snow is melted. Last year on the same date it was 7 inches.

    The snowpack at the headwaters of the Crystal River Valley was 97% at Schofield Pass and 97% at McClure Pass as of Friday.

    The snowpack at the headwaters of the Fryingpan River Valley was 147% at Ivanhoe Lake and 131% at Kiln, according to the snow telemetry sites.

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 7, 2019 via the NRCS.

    #Wyoming ranchers lodge protest against new high capacity wells in the #OgallalaAquifer #LaramieRiver #NorthPlatteRiver

    Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com

    From Wyoming Public Radio (Melodie Edwards):

    The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office recently heard a proposal to drill eight high-capacity water wells in Laramie County, and now 17 ranchers and farmers in the area are protesting.

    The wells would use a total of 1.5 billion acre feet of water from the Ogallala Aquifer that many states in the Western U.S. rely on for water. Fifth generation Wyoming rancher and attorney Reba Epler said if the state engineer approves these wells, stock wells on her family ranch would likely dry up.

    “One of the ways we’d be impacted immediately is that we’d have shallower stock wells that we’ve used for about 50 years,” Epler said. “We’d have to drill much deeper, and the cost of drilling deeper is getting significantly more expensive.”

    Epler said all eight wells were applied for by three members of the Lerwick family. She said it’s possible the family wants to sell the water to use in the fracking process since a lot of oil and gas development is happening in the area.

    “If you really want to know, I think it’s a classic resource grab,” Epler said. “And anyone who controls 4,642 acre feet of water has a tremendous amount of power and they will have it a long time and many generations of people will have that kind of power.”

    Epler said it doesn’t make sense to give anyone that much water when the Ogalalla Aquifer is already drawing down so much nationwide.

    “The aquifer in parts of Texas has gone dry, it’s gone dry in parts of New Mexico. Oklahoma, Kansas are having a really difficult time because their pivots are drying up. Colorado, eastern Colorado is having a heck of a time.”

    Epler said she remembers when Lodgepole Creek near her ranch ran year round.

    Ogallala Aquifer. This map shows changes in Ogallala water levels from the period before the aquifer was tapped to 2015. Declining levels appear in red and orange, and rising levels appear in shades of blue. The darker the color, the greater the change. Gray indicates no significant change. Although water levels have actually risen in some areas, especially Nebraska, water levels are mostly in decline, namely from Kansas southward. Image credit: National Climate Assessment 2018