James W. Broderick Hydropower plant at Pueblo Dam dedicated

Workers prepare a turbine and generator at the James W. Broderick Hydroelectric Power Facility at Pueblo Dam shortly before it began producing electricity this week. Photo credit: The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

Here’s the release from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Chris Woodka):

The James W. Broderick Hydropower Plant at Pueblo Dam was dedicated on Monday, September 16, [2019], before a crowd of about 100 people.

The hydroelectric generating facility was completed in May 2019 and is named for James W. Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Southeastern President Bill Long hailed Broderick’s vision for pursuing the project under a Lease of Power Privilege with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The process was started in 2011, and culminated in 2017, when the lease was signed. Construction of the $20.5 million plant took 18 months.

“Jim has given a lot more than his name to the James W. Broderick Hydropower Plant. It has been Jim’s vision to create this project, and to use the revenues generated by the plant to enhance the benefits of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project,” Long said. “this is an example of the type of creative thinking and leadership that Jim brings to every aspect of his service to the Southeastern District.”

Broderick, in accepting the honor, credited his wife Cindy and their daughter Amy for his own success as a water leader not only in southeastern Colorado, but throughout the state and the western region. Broderick currently is president of the Colorado River Water Users Association, and has led other agencies within the state, including Colorado Water Congress and the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.

Broderick also recognized the Southeastern District’s early partners in the Lease of Power Privilege, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Water, for technical assistance and support in bringing the power plant project to completion. Other contributors during the planning and construction process included Black Hills Energy and Pueblo West.

[Those on] hand for the event [included] Brenda Burman, Commissioner of Reclamation, and Becky Mitchell of the Colorado Water Conservation Board…

Burman said the plant is one of 14 built on existing dams so far under a Lease of Power Privilege, and shows how maximum benefits can be realized from existing federal projects. Reclamation operates the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in cooperation with the Southeastern District. The Project provides supplemental water for cities and farms in the Arkansas River basin by importing water from the Colorado River basin.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board provided a $17.2 million loan to construct the hydroelectric plant. Mitchell hailed the plant, which uses water to produce energy, as the type of project the state will become involved with as it moves in the future.

The power plant will generate, on average, 28 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power 2,500 homes a year. It was constructed under a design-build contract with Mountain States Hydro of Sunnyside, Wash.

Power will be sold to the City of Fountain, and to Fort Carson, through Colorado Springs Utilities.

#Climate Lawsuit Targets 130 Oil Leases on #PublicLands in #Utah — @CenterForBioDiv #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Here’s the release from the Center for Biological Diversity (Steve Bloch, Landon Newell, Diana Dascalu-Joffe):

Conservation groups sued the Trump administration today for failing to consider the climate pollution from 130 oil and gas leases spanning 175,500 acres of public lands in Utah.

Today’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, says the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving five lease sales from 2014 to 2018 without accounting for the climate pollution that would result from oil and gas development. It asks the court to invalidate all five approvals and their 130 leases.

The lawsuit comes as climate scientists urge drastic cuts to greenhouse gas pollution over the coming decade. New oil and gas leases, whose production can last decades, commit public lands to more pollution. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas pollution results from fossil fuel development on public lands.

“The climate crisis is being exacerbated by the BLM’s reckless and uninformed oil and gas leasing and development on public lands,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “The development of these leases will push us closer to the point of no return on climate, while sacrificing some of the most wild, scenic and culturally significant public lands in America.”

Most of the challenged leases resulted from the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda. In addition to slashing environmental reviews to hasten oil and gas leasing, the administration has attacked federal development and reliance on climate science in agency decisions and reports.

“Each new oil and gas lease commits us to more greenhouse gas pollution that our planet can’t afford,” said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are already more fossil fuels under development in the world than can be safely burned. New leases dangerously disregard urgent climate warnings from scientists. These leases were irresponsible and illegal, and we’re hopeful that a court will agree.”

The leases also threaten public lands and endangered species, including the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. Fracking sucks up enormous amounts of water and threatens to pollute the Colorado River and tributaries where the fish live.

“Several accidents involving water pollution have already happened on the Green River and its tributaries,” said John Weisheit, a professional river guide in eastern Utah and a representative of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper. “Combined with diminished flow volumes for these rivers, the multimillion-dollar investment already made to ensure a successful endangered fish program must not be further compromised.”

Background

Federal fossil fuel production causes about a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce CO2 emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate policy proposals in recent years.

Federal fossil fuels that have not yet been leased to the industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution. Those already leased contain up to 43 billion tons.

Existing laws provide executive authority to stop federal leasing on public lands and oceans. Hundreds of organizations have petitioned the federal government to end new onshore and offshore federal fossil fuel leasing.

Map of challenged oil and gas leases. Credit: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance/Esri ArcMap 10.6.1.9270

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe goes solar: An image of sovereignty in the Colorado high desert — @HighCountryNews #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

In addition to bringing in revenue, an expansion of the current project would provide more tribal members with training and jobs in renewables. Photo credit: Avery White via High Country News

From The High Country News (Avery White):

In the southwest corner of Colorado, the sun beats down on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. High desert runs to the horizon in every direction, broken only by imposing mesas and Sleeping Ute Mountain. Just under 2,000 people live on the 580,000-acre-reservation, which sprawls across Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. But as temperatures rise with climate change, utility bills rise with them, and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe has begun transitioning to 100% renewable power — a movement towards energy sovereignty they have been forging for almost a decade.

Nations, states and communities around the world are establishing rapid decarbonization goals, including Colorado, which declared a target of 90% carbon-free energy by 2050. With increased pressure for immediate, large-scale changes to energy infrastructure, international policies for expanding renewables have played a critical role in increasing solar technology’s accessibility and efficiency. By combining this evolving technology with local knowledge, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is generating energy solutions rooted in its community.

“Our tribe likes to think outside of the box and take risks, and we believe in renewable energy,” said Tribal Community Services Director Bernadette Cuthair. In its first major stride towards net carbon zero, the tribe is building a large-scale solar array through a partnership with GRID Alternatives Colorado, an organization that helps low-income and underserved communities access renewable energy technology and job training. The $2 million project includes 3,500 solar panels that will offset at least 10% of the reservation’s overall energy usage, eliminating about 1,515 tons of greenhouse gas emissions by year one.

The tribe is considering building a large-scale renewable energy business to serve national markets, increase tribal revenue, and provide more training and jobs. “The solar array we’re building now is a 1-megawatt project, but we’re looking into what we could do with 200 or 300 megawatts next,” said Cuthair. “This is just the beginning for us as far as renewables.”

It’s estimated that in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than the entire human race consumes in a year. That presents infinite possibilities for areas like the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. “One thing the tribe has a lot of is land,” said Scott Clow, the tribe’s environmental programs director. “When you look across all of that acreage, there are many locations well suited for solar projects — mainly flat land, and land that doesn’t have a lot of limitations of conflicting use.”

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates tribal land in the Lower 48 states has the capacity to supply 17.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar power, which is more than four times the total electric energy generated by the U.S in 2018. Through renewables, the Ute Mountain Ute and a growing number of tribes are empowering their communities and land — and helping the nation as a whole transition towards a more sustainable energy infrastructure.

“It’s a very exciting time for the tribe, because we’re headed in a different direction as far as sustainability and self-reliance,” said Cuthair. “This is a step towards energy independence for us, and it feels like we’re part of a movement. This is what we want our legacy to be.”

Avery White is a multimedia storyteller and journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. She covers resistance movements around climate change, social justice and immigration. Follow her on Instagram at @averyleighwhite. Email High Country News at editor@hcn.org.

After clean electricity, #Colorado to focus on green transportation, buildings — @AspenJournalism #ActOnClimate

The coal-fired Tri-State Generation and Transmission plant in Craig provides much of the power used in Western Colorado, including in Aspen and Pitkin County. Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office has a plan to move the state’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From Aspen Journalism (Elizabeth Stewart-Severy):

The 2019 legislative session in Colorado included a major focus on climate policy, and Gov. Jared Polis has a plan to move the state’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, [was] in Aspen on [September 4, 2019] to discuss that plan and how states can address climate change.

In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed a dozen climate-related bills, including bills focused on tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There were also bills aimed at helping coal workers transition to new careers, increasing the size of community solar gardens and diverting more waste from landfills.

“One of the things that in many ways was really interesting was how non-controversial most of these bills were,” Toor said. “Compared to prior years where any one of these bills might have been a gigantic fight, most of them went through without large battles over them.”

Toor said a few bills, including SB 236, which re-wrote how the state public utilities commission will work with utilities, and HB 1261, which sets goals for reducing pollution, have the potential to make a major impact on Colorado’s footprint.

“Together, I think that these will be really transformative and move the state forward toward using low-cost renewable energy that I think will both save consumers money and dramatically clean up our electricity supply,” Toor said.

Though Toor said the climate-related bills were mostly non-controversial, he acknowledged that there will be some economic challenges in parts of the state that relied heavily on coal.

“There’s going to be a lot of work required, I think, to help with economic development in those regions, as the world changes,” he said.

But those changes are due primarily to market demands, Toor said, not state legislation.

Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office via State of Colorado.

Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission recently followed California’s lead in adopting zero emission vehicle standards, and the governor’s office is working to expand the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the state and the I-70 corridor. Toor said this decision is likely to mean more models of electric vehicles will become available in the state.

Such work to electrify transportation could be valuable in reducing emissions as Colorado’s outdoor recreation continues to grow. He said the state is “looking at opportunities for getting EV charging infrastructure at state parks, at ski areas.”

And he said, as the outdoor industry partners with car companies at major events, “it would be great to see more of those be electric vehicles that they’re highlighting when they’re working with various sponsors.”

Toor said the three top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are electricity generation, transportation and buildings. As electricity gets cleaner, he said the focus will shift to transportation and buildings.

“Just as with transportation, we do believe that, in addition to increased energy efficiency, electrification of buildings is going to be very important,” Toor said.

His office just kicked off a study to try to quantify what it would look like to move toward replacing natural gas with electricity in buildings around the state, and to understand what policies might support that.

Toor speaks about these policies and how local communities and states can tackle climate change tonight at 6 p.m. at the Limelight in Aspen as part of the Aspen U speaker series.

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating with Aspen Public Radio on coverage of of the environment.

Coyote Gulch’s Leaf charging at the City of Thornton’s Infrastructure Maintenance Center August 31, 2019. Charging infrastructure partially paid for with a grant from the Colorado Energy Office.

#DavidKoch and the winters of #Aspen: The man who warmed the planet wanted to celebrate winter in Aspen — The Mountain Town News @MountainTownNew #ActOnClimate #GoodRiddance

Graphic credit: The Washington Post (Note: NOAA does not provide data for Alaska or Hawaii for this time period.)

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Of the dozens of billionaires who have homes in Aspen and its suburbs, perhaps none have had such a large national presence as David Koch.

The death last week of Koch at the age of 79 and with a wealth estimated by Forbes of $50.5 billion was given front-page attention by the New York Times: “Mogul Whose Fortune Steered American Politics to the Right.” In a two-page interior spread, the newspaper also pointed to Koch’s steady philanthropy, especially for the arts.

The Wall Street Journal had the news on page 2, but the editorial page, a reliable supporter of all things capitalistic, heralded his life. “Certainly he used his money to support causes he deemed worthy, and this included promoting liberty-loving think tanks and political groups,” the Journal said.

“But the bulk of the $1.295 billon he gave away went to medicine and the arts.” The defining aspect of Koch’s life,” the editorial went on to say, “is that he was a businessman…He helped his company make money, and he left the country richer and freer because he did.”

“Good riddance,” was the theme of progressives in the echo chamber of Facebook when I posed the question about Koch’s interplay with Aspen. None were from Aspen, although I do count two ex-Aspen mayors among my Facebook acquaintances. But at least one Trump supporter from the Vail area had equally wilting words: “One down, one to go.”

David Koch and his brother Charles were painted with acidy strokes by Jane Mayer in her 2016 book: “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” In this view, the Kochs embraced libertarian views to further their chemical and fossil fuel businesses. “Lowering taxes and rolling back regulations, slashing the welfare state and obliterating the limits on campaign spending might or might not have helped others, but they most certainly strengthened the hand of extreme donors with extreme wealth,” she wrote.

The Times noted that the influence of the Koch brothers peaked in 2015 when multiple Republicans presidential candidates flew to Los Angeles to seek support from the two men at a luxury hotel. They did not include Donald Trump, who jumped on the dark view of government but whose efforts to sharply reduce immigration and diminish free trade were antithetical to those of Koch Industries. They did not support Trump’s candidacy.

David Koch lived primarily in New York City but had a house in Aspen that, according to The Aspen Times, he purchased in 1989 for $1.9 million. The property is now worth $16.1 million, according to county tax records, and has 8,100 square feet. He also owned an adjoining house worth $7.4 million.

Both homes overlook Aspen Meadows, home of the Aspen Institute, which holds a conference each June called the Ideas Festival. It’s a direct descendant of a conference held in 1949 in honor of the 200th birthday of the humanist Goethe. Albert Schweitzer journeyed from his humanitarian work in Africa to speak at the conference. Many sessions of this conference occur in the David H. Koch Building.

Even a skimpy Google search reveals that Koch and his wife, Julia, donated more than $1 million to the institute in just a few years in the late 1990s. The Aspen Institute lists the couple as being in the Paepcke Society, which “honors philanthropic leaders who have made exceptional, long-term contributions in support of the Aspen Institute’s mission.”

Koch sat during an assembly several years ago at the Ideas Festival, the 6-foot-5 frame that made him a basketball star at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (with a scoring record that stood for 46 years) taking up a couple seats, as Valerie Jarrett, the advisor to President Barack Obama, and Paul Ryan, then the speaker of the House, spoke. Earlier, he had been in the front row when another billionaire, Tom Steyer (this year a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination), spoke about the risks of climate change.

The Aspen Times also detailed Koch’s community engagement in Aspen. John Bennett, the mayor for much of the 1990s, said that Koch “clearly cared about this community and wanted to support local nonprofits he believed in.”

Among his projects was an ice rink that he wanted to install seasonally in Aspen’s largest park. The city council nixed the idea for logistical reasons, but Bennett said he was fascinated by it.

Many accused Koch of wanting to kill winter, because of his efforts to block government efforts to address the root cause of global warming, the combustion of fossil fuels.

“Koch Industries realized early on that it would be a financial disaster for the firm if the American government regulated carbon emission or made companies pay a price for releasing carbon into the air,” wrote Christopher Leonard, author of “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America,” in an essay published by the New York Times on Sunday. With billions and potentially trillions of dollars at stake, the Koch brothers “built a political influence machine that is arguably unrivaled by any in corporate America,” Leonard wrote under a headline: “The Ultimate Climate Change Denier.”

While warming the planet, David Koch wanted to celebrate winter in Aspen.

About Allen Best
Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist. He publishes a subscription-based e-zine called Mountain Town News, portions of which are published on the website of the same name, and also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines.

Victims if Colorado adopts California’s zero-emissions standard for cars, and victims if it does not — The Mountain Town News @MountainTownNew

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Victims testified left and right at the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission hearing on Wednesday.

Gov. Jared Polis directed the commission to consider adopting provisions of the California zero emission vehicle standard. This would require vehicle manufacturers to increase the number of electric vehicles delivered to Colorado for sale beginning in 2023. With more variety, according to the thinking, consumers will be more likely to purchase electric vehicles.

Why electric vehicles? Two good reasons.

One is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado has adopted aggressive goals of GHG reduction. The second reason is to reduce precursors of the ground-level ozone that blankets the northern Front Range from Denver to Fort Collins and Greeley on hot summer days. This area is out of attainment with federal standards.

The standards are based on adverse health impacts. A new study has found that air pollution— especially ozone—can accelerate the progression of emphysema of the lung. Researchers found that bad air pollution can have as much impact as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

The Denver-based Regional Air Quality Council testified why electric cars will help the metropolitan area to improve air quality. What the agency calls “on-road mobile sources” contribute 31% of nitrogen oxides and 16% of volatile organic compounds, two contributors to ozone pollution.

Local government groups—including representatives of both Eagle County and Aspen—as well as environmental advocacy groups testified why they supported the ZEV standard.

Then, as the afternoon wore on, two groups with very different opinions took turns at the microphones. First was a collection of groups collectively called the Environmental Justice Coalition. Several identified themselves as being from along Interstate 70 as it passes through Globeville and other communities north of downtown Denver, east of Interstate 25. One woman, speaking in Spanish, which was interpreted, told about the injustice of sending her children to an elementary school there, near the intersection of the two interstate highways, and the pollution from the vehicles that caused harmful health effects such as asthma.

They opposed the widening of I-70, what one speaker, Drew Dutcher, called a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. They lost that battle. But Dutcher suggested that electric vehicles will reduce the pollution to low-income areas such as his.

Ean Tafoya, from the Colorado Latino Forum, broadened that thought to include those who live along all busy highways. He said that Polis had visited poorer Latino communities and said that prioritizing public health was a high priority. “That’s what makes this an environmental justice issue,” he said.

Then came a group called Freedom to Drive Coalition. It includes Mesa County, Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Colorado Motor Carriers Association, Colorado Wheat Growers, Colorado Petroleum Association, and others.

They reject mandates and argued that electric vehicles will be subsidized by purchasers of internal combustion engines, a cost one speaker said would amount to $500 per vehicle. They argued that upper- and middle-class residents of metropolitan Denver as well as places like Aspen would be burdening Colorado’s rural residents.

Elise Jones, a Boulder County commissioner who is also on the Air Quality Control Commission, asked the wheat industry representative if wheat farmers were worried about the effects of climate change. They were worried, he replied, but that was a long-term threat, whereas earning a profit on next year’s crop was an immediate concern. Wheat growers only make money in one out of five years, he said.

The testimony went on and on, and as the afternoon grew long, John Medved, talked. “I have never had anyone tell me they are going on a mountain adventure with an electric car except maybe in the summer,” he said.

Medved also shared this detail: He makes only $400 when sale of a car. All of his significant profits come from other arms of his car dealerships.

It’s perhaps useful to note here that electric vehicles have a reputation of requiring much less maintenance than internal combustion engines, because they have few or no moving parts. As such, they don’t need to be returned to a dealer or some other mechanic for servicing.

What was hard to digest was the argument that rural Colorado would be forced to subsidize urban Colorado. “Simple economics,” one of the Freedom to Drive Coalition. He tried to explain, but the explanation was completely lost on me. Those simple economics also overlook the projections that electric vehicles will reach price parity with internal-combustion engines by 2024-2027.

The Freedom folks also testified that accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in Colorado will simultaneously raise the price of electricity and raise the price of diesel. Perhaps cause dandruff and bad breath, too?

As I write this, late Thursday afternoon, more than two days after testimony began, the testimony and the questions continue. By the time you read this, a decision will probably have been rendered by the Air Quality Control Commission.

Leaf Byers Canyon August 21, 2017.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission did pass the standards. Air Quality Control Commission adopts a zero-emission vehicle standard (Jessica Bralish):

The new standard will provide Coloradans with more vehicle choices

DENVER: The Air Quality Control Commission adopted a zero-emission vehicle standard for Colorado early today in an 8-1 decision. The move is directly aligned with the commission’s mission to achieve the cleanest air practical in every part of the state.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is pursuing aggressive strategies to reduce ozone pollution as quickly as possible, as the state continues to work to meet the federal ozone pollution standard. Fossil-fuel vehicles are a major source of ozone pollution, along with the oil and gas industry. Ozone pollution can cause asthma and other adverse symptoms. Fossil-fuel vehicles also emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.

“We are charged up and ready to roll,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the department’s executive director. “The adoption of the zero-emission vehicle standard is a clear demonstration of our unrelenting commitment to making sure every Coloradan has clean air to breathe.”

John Putnam, environmental programs director at the department, said, “We are committed to a state where Coloradans can zip up into the mountains in a zero-emitting vehicle and go for a hike without coughing and wheezing from ozone. It’s what Coloradans rightfully expect and deserve. We’ve made a lot of progress on cleaning up our air over the past several years, but the standards are getting more stringent. We have to rise to the challenge.”

The new zero-emission standard requires automakers to sell more than 5 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2023 and more than 6 percent zero-emission vehicles by 2025. The standard is based on a matrix of credits given for each electric vehicle sold, depending on the vehicle’s zero-emission range.

The new requirement does not mandate consumers to purchase electric vehicles, but experts say it will result in manufacturers selling a wider range of models in Colorado, including SUVs and light trucks.

“The zero-emission standard does not compel anyone to buy an electric vehicle, said Garry Kaufman, director of the Air Pollution Control Division at the department. “It only requires manufacturers to increase ZEV sales from 2.6 percent to 6.23 percent. It’s a modest proposal in the face of a critical threat. Where the federal government refuses to act, states must lead. Time is of the essence.”

The Air Quality Control Commission prioritizes stakeholder engagement and public input.

The commission invited public comment at various hours of the day and evening, and also invited remote testimony by telephone to make it easier for those who could not travel to the Front Range. The commission’s decision came after a robust public comment period, as well as significant written and oral testimony from parties providing information on all aspects of the standard.

“The commission was impressed by the overwhelming amount of public support for electric vehicles from urban and rural areas throughout the state,” said Trisha Oeth, the department’s director of environmental boards and commissions. “They noted that the public want these vehicles, want them more quickly, and want more choices.”

Electric vehicles can reduce the #Colorado’s emissions more than anything else #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Leaf, Berthoud Pass Summit, August 21, 2017.

From Vox (David Roberts):

The Colorado legislature has had an extraordinarily productive year so far, passing a stunning array of climate and clean energy bills covering everything from clean electricity to utilities, energy efficiency, and a just transition. The list is really pretty amazing…

It got me thinking: Just how big a role are EVs going to play in decarbonization? How should policymakers be prioritizing them relative to, say, renewable energy? Obviously, every state and country is going to need to do both eventually — fully electrify transportation and fully decarbonize electricity — but it would still be helpful to better understand their relative impacts.

Nerds to the rescue!

A new bit of research commissioned by Community Energy (a renewable energy project developer) casts light on this question. It models the carbon and financial impacts of large-scale vehicle electrification in Colorado and comes to two main conclusions.

First, electrifying vehicles would reduce carbon more than completely decarbonizing the state electricity sector, pushing state emissions down 42 percent from 2018 levels by 2040 — not enough to hit the targets on its own, but a huge chunk. Second, electrifying vehicles saves consumers money by reducing the cost of transportation almost $600 a year on average.

Rapid electrification is a win-win for Colorado, a driver of decarbonization and a transfer of wealth from oil companies to consumers — but only if charging is managed intelligently.

EVs bring carbon and consumer benefits

First, the headline: Electrifying EVs…reduces emissions a lot.

In the EV-grid scenario, electricity sector emissions fall 46 percent — the number is lower because about a third of the additional electricity demand from EVs is satisfied by natural gas — but overall state emissions drop 42 percent, more than two and a half times as much, representing 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s thanks to an 80 percent drop in transportation emissions…

As I said, that in itself is not enough to meet the state’s emissions target. The state will have to force some additional cleaning of the electricity sector (and deal with other sectors) to do that, as this year’s package of legislation reflects. (I asked Clack if Vibrant ran a scenario without any new natural gas. Yes, he said. “It was $1 billion per year more expensive [around 1¢/kWh, or 15.9 percent more] and decreased emissions by an additional 14.8 metric tons per year.”)

But the drop in transportation emissions in the EV-grid scenario is sufficient to reduce more overall emissions than the entire Colorado electricity sector produces. EVs are a vital piece of the decarbonization puzzle.

The effect of all the new EVs on electricity generation is pretty simple: There will be more of it…

As you can see, in the cleaner-grid scenario, lost coal generation is replaced by a mix of natural gas, wind, and solar. In the EV-grid scenario, it’s roughly the same mix, just a little more of each — the addition of EVs raises total electricity demand by about 20 percent.

Bonus result: “The increase in generation capacity increases employment in Colorado’s electricity sector by approximately 68 percent by 2040.”

[…]

And now, here are the fun parts.

Shifting from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) to EVs would save Colorado consumers a whole boatload of money, for the simple reason that electricity is a cheaper fuel than gasoline. Here are the average savings for a Coloradan that switches from ICEV to EV between 2018 and 2040…

So the average Coloradan will save between $590 and $645 a year — nothing to sneeze at. “The total savings between 2018 and 2040 are estimated to be $16 billion,” Vibrant says, “which equates to a savings of almost $700 million per year.”

You might think, with all the new EV demand added to the grid, electricity rates would go up. In fact, relative to the cleaner-grid scenario, the EV-grid scenario has an extremely small impact on rates (0.7 percent difference at the extreme)…

EVs are a climate triple threat

What this modeling makes clear is that when it comes to clean energy policy, EVs are a triple threat for Colorado (and, obviously, for other states, though the impacts will vary with weather and electricity mix).

For the electricity sector, as long as their charging is properly managed, EVs can provide much-needed new tools to help manage the influx of renewable energy…

For the transportation sector, EVs can radically reduce carbon emissions and local pollution. (Yes, EVs reduce carbon emissions even in areas with lots of coal on the grid.)

And for consumers, EVs save money, not only because the fuel is cheaper (and getting cheaper all the time) but because EVs are much simpler machines, with fewer moving parts and much lower maintenance costs.

Especially in states with electricity sector emissions that are already low or falling, transportation is the next big place to look for emission reductions, and EVs are one of the few options that can reduce emissions at the necessary scale and speed. Colorado is right to encourage them.