Dollars, not politics, are driving Colorado’s accelerated embrace of solar energy
Installing solar utility generation is now cheaper than wind or natural gas-fired plants, and far cheaper than new coal generation. Standing in the shade of a massive, utility-scale array of solar panels on farmland east of Interstate 25, you don’t have to look far for real-time examples of renewable sun power supplanting fossil fuels in the arc of Colorado’s historical energy supply. Electricity generated by the Rattlesnake solar array uploads to United Power’s local grid and then downloads immediately to pump fracked Colorado petroleum out of the ground, within walking distance of the solar plant. Two and a half hours to the south, utility-scale solar arrays under construction near Xcel Energy’s coal-fired Comanche power plant will fuel the expansion of Pueblo’s historic steel rail mill. Statewide, solar power’s gradually-then-suddenly rise as a key part of overall electricity generation will add gigawatts of sunshine to the grid in the next three years, and even more by the 2030 target of reducing Colorado utility greenhouse emissions by 80%. Plummeting prices for solar panels in the past decade mean the cost of generating by the sun is now only 11% of what it was 10 years ago, and with various tax credits, significantly cheaper than building fossil fuel plants.
Colorado Sun 25th Jan 2021 read more »