Renewable Energy Colorado

Turbines blow in the wind at an Xcel Energy wind farm on the Colorado-Wyoming border south of Cheyenne. Xcel Energy announced it would supply zero-carbon electricity by 2050 to customers in the eight states in which in operates.

A new research report says that green energy isn't just good for Colorado's fight against climate change; it's good for the job base, as well.

The state's climate change goal, set by Gov. Jared Polis and promoted by Democrats in the legislature, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.

Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst estimate that could generate 100,000 jobs a year.

"New job opportunities will be created in a wide range of areas, including construction, sales, management, production, engineering and office support," states an abstract of the report.

"At the same time, the contraction of the state’s fossil fuel related industries will generate about 700 job losses per year, of which about 600 will be non-managerial jobs."

You can read the full paper, titled "A Green Growth Program for Colorado," by clicking here.

This report was commissioned by the Colorado AFL-CIO with other financial support from other Colorado labor groups, including the Denver Area Labor Federation.

“Working people and our communities must be included in our state’s plans for climate stabilization,” said Dennis Dougherty, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, in a statement Tuesday.

“A truly sustainable future will not ask more of the energy and utility workers who power our state than from billionaires," Dougherty said.

"The findings of this report affirm that we must resolve both the ecological and economic implications of climate change in order to move this issue forward. This report lays out a path that protects working people’s retirements, supports displaced workers, and advocates for a clean energy industry committed to fair wages and benefits.

The paper gets into advocacy, including benefits for displaced energy industry workers during the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

"We also propose a broader set of policies to meet the state’s emissions reduction goals," researchers state.

The recommendations in the 145-page report included:

  • Imposing a "carbon tax" on sources of carbon dioxide such as coal, natural gas, diesel and propane.
  • Raising the state's energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards.
  • Strengthening procurement programs for clean energy investments.
  • Increasing subsidies for clean energy investments.
  • Expanding training programs for clean energy jobs.

The report also recommended "channeling a disproportionate share of new clean energy investments into communities that will be significantly impacted by the contraction of the state’s fossil fuel related industries."

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