Monday, June 24, 2024

Colorado lawmakers reduce laws to restrict native management over renewable power initiatives – The Durango Herald

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A photo voltaic array in Brush, operated by Pivot and Xcel Energy, turns into operational in early 2020. (Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun by way of Report for America)

Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun by way of Report for America

A brand new invoice launched within the Colorado Senate final week cautiously advances a rising debate about neighborhood opposition to utility-scale wind and photo voltaic initiatives.

An early model of the laws obtained by CPR News in February steered that Colorado lawmakers may restrict native management of renewable power initiatives. In latest years, some Democratic-led states have handed legal guidelines to broaden state oversight of unpolluted power improvement to beat native resistance and guarantee a path to achievement. the state’s local weather objectives.

After months of behind-the-scenes debates in Colorado, the ultimate proposal dropped the state takeover risk in favor of a extra restricted method. The invoice would require state businesses to compile a library of mannequin codes and ordinances to manipulate wind, photo voltaic, power storage, and transmission improvement. Local and tribal governments face no authorized obligation to undertake the requirements.

The laws additionally directs state biologists to help native governments in figuring out whether or not a proposed venture protects essential wildlife habitat.

“I’m working onerous to verify this act would not turn out to be a partisan problem,” mentioned State Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver. “I feel that is occurred in different states, and I actually need to work onerous to verify the identical dynamic would not occur in Colorado.”

The closing model, nonetheless, has thus far didn’t appease critics who fear that the state will restrict native authority.

Kelly Flenniken, the chief director for Colorado Counties, Inc., which represents county governments in state stage political battles, famous that the invoice doesn’t do this, however she mentioned, “It seems like step one.”

Earlier this week, county officers on the advocacy steering committee voted to oppose the invoice in its present type. While Flenniken appreciated lawmakers’ willingness to again away from earlier proposals, he mentioned the vote reveals many county officers proceed to see the plan as an answer searching for an issue.

“Local governments consider they’re doing a great job and permit renewable power initiatives,” Flenniken mentioned.

The proposal comes after a number of research discovered that neighborhood resistance is without doubt one of the essential causes builders throughout the nation have scrapped renewable power initiatives prior to now few years. Critics typically argue that wind generators are too tall and noisy, whereas photo voltaic initiatives cowl different helpful farmland with inefficient panels.

In response, some states have restricted native powers to make sure that objections from cities, cities, and counties don’t intrude with efforts to cope with local weather change. Michigan, for instance, authorized a brand new legislation in 2023 that offers its state utility fee the power to approve massive renewable power initiatives over objections from cities and provinces. Illinois lately set statewide requirements for native governments contemplating utility-scale wind and photo voltaic amenities.

A latest report from the Sabin Center for Climate Law at Columbia University means that Colorado is just not a hotbed for anti-renewables activism in comparison with different states. The rising improvement of carbon-free electrical energy initiatives has nonetheless met with opposition in some rural communities. Washington County authorized strict restrictions on new wind and photo voltaic installations by 2021. A group of native teams additionally opposes Xcel Energy’s plan to construct a $1.7 billion high-voltage transmission line that can run by means of Colorado’s Eastern Plains to carry carbon-free electrical energy to Front Sakop.

A coalition of six air high quality and environmental teams – Audubon Rockies, Clean Air Task Force, Conservation Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Western Resource Advocates – aligned behind the laws. In a information launch, the teams mentioned the proposal offers an affordable path for renewable power amid rising restrictions on improvement and restrictive zoning ordinances.

Severiano DeSoto, a coverage adviser for Western Resource Advocates, mentioned the invoice would shield wildlife whereas serving to to attain Gov. Jared Polis to maneuver to 100% renewable power by 2040. To hit the goal, a brand new examine commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office discovered that the state must triple whole wind capability and improve photo voltaic power by an element of 5.

“Many of the opposite items are supposed to carry communities in and be certain that they profit straight from the venture,” DeSoto mentioned.

Renewable power builders usually are not dashing to help the plan. In an emailed assertion, Rikki Seguin, the chief director of the Interwest Energy Alliance — a bunch representing utility-scale renewable power builders — advised CPR News that her group is pleased with its relationships with county commissioners. and communities throughout Colorado and are actually looking for modifications.

“While we’ve distinctive questions and considerations with the invoice, we’re working in good religion with the events to make sure that the laws helps and doesn’t by accident hinder the clear power transition,” Seguin mentioned.

To learn extra tales from Colorado Public Radio, go to www.cpr.org.





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