U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm toured the Namaste Solar farm east of Aurora under rainy skies Thursday afternoon to talk about the Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan and his goal to achieve greener electricity by 2035.
"This is the largest investment in electric vehicle infrastructure in our nation's history," she told a gaggle of reporters and green energy advocates. "The largest investment in transit in our nation's history and the largest investment in trains since Amtrak came on the scene. The largest investment in bridges."
The eight-year proposal includes $7.5 billion for electric-vehicle infrastructure and another $7.5 billion to support electrified buses.
Other investments of the plan include:
- Roads, bridges and other major projects: $109 billion
- Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion
- Broadband infrastructure: $65 billion
- Water infrastructure, such as eliminating lead pipes: $55 billion
- Western water storage: $5 billion.
The bill was stripped down from Biden's original $2 trillion proposal to reach a deal with Republicans.
In reality, only about half, $579 billion, is new funding beyond what had already been laid out to address critical infrastructure decay.
The negotiated bill with Republicans would be paid for with more than a dozen mechanisms, starting with $100 billion in estimated tax revenues by stepping up Internal Revenue Service enforcement, unused COVID-19 aid, and oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as well as unused unemployment insurance funds returned by the states.
Granholm and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper toured the 11-acre solar site on the plains with 5,958 panels said to offset more than 53,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
After that, she took in a Rockies game.
Granholm was the first woman elected governor of Michigan in 2002, after she was the first woman elected as the state's attorney general in 1998. Hickenlooper was Colorado's first brew pub operator-elected-governor in 2010.
The administration's infrastructure plan, which Democrats characterize as grandly historic, would invest in a clean energy future and accelerate corresponding projects in Colorado and other states.
Gov. Jared Polis, the state's greenest energy governor to date, came out in favor of the plan on Twitter Thursday morning.
"This is the transformational change we've been waiting for," the former Democratic congressman tweeted. "We need to fix our roads and reduce traffic, and this bipartisan effort will get it done."
Polis praised the president's "engagement, bipartisan partnership and steadfast support for Coloradans as we build back stronger than before."
Granholm said Colorado has more than 500 bridges in poor condition, with the former governor at her side.
"All these basic fundamentals were negotiated (and) we've got to get that through," she said, as rain began to fall harder on top of the small yellow tent where she and Hickenlooper huddled with press. "We've got to get the second step through, as well, and the second step will include things like the clean energy standard. Both of these are very important and both of these the president is committed to making sure they get to his desk."
Hickenlooper reminded her the bill also include about $73 billion in much-needed investment for the nation's power grid.
"When we stand out here and look at this harvesting of solar energy, we need a grid, a smart grid, and that's going to take a commitment," he said.
He said infrastructure would allow Democrats and Republicans to work together to "really live up to some of President Biden's expectations."
Republicans in the Colorado legislature made that same case for the entirety of Hickenlooper's tenure as governor, but Democrats in the General Assembly failed repeatedly to get a road- and bridge-funding bill to his desk.
This past session, the legislature passed at $5.2 billion transportation package — powered by $3.9 billion in new fees on fuel, deliveries, electric vehicles and ride-sharing — that's heavy with investment in electric vehicles, transit and help for areas with air quality problems.
The Department of Energy provided other stats and facts about the state Thursday:
- Colorado is home to 348 solar companies, employing about 7,719 people.
- Colorado ranked 13th in the nation for installed solar capacity, with 1,536.15 megawatts of solar energy installed as last year.
- About $390 million in Colorado solar investments made in 2019, with a total of $3.9 billion invested overall.
- The state’s original community solar program adopted in 2010 included a 5% per project dedication to serve low-income families.