The Colorado renewable energy standard has seen attacks in the legislature and the courts from anti-clean energy front groups.
In the courts, the Heartland Institute highlighted the fossil fuel-funded Energy & Environment Legal Institute (EELI)’s law suit claiming that the state’s renewable energy standard (RES) was unconstitutional because it ” violates the U.S. Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause by providing economic benefits to renewable electricity generators located in Colorado unavailable to out-of-state renewable power producers and by imposing Colorado’s laws on businesses operating in other states.” EELI claimed that provisions defining retail distributed energy as those located in the state of Colorado discriminates against out-of-state power producers. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Colorado RES, saying that the law does not violate interstate commerce laws or discriminate against out of state coal suppliers.
Heartland also pressured state lawmakers to repeal the state’s RES, spreading disinformation about how the law has caused electricity prices to rise faster than the national average. Reviewing the Energy Information Administration’s numbers on electricity prices, one finds that Colorado prices increased only 3.3% faster than the national average. However, this is likely not because of the renewable energy standard.
Energy & Policy Institute challenged Heartland’s claims last year in Kansas and Ohio, showing that the renewable energy standard did not cause electricity prices to rise. Colorado uses less natural gas for electricity generation than other states and less natural gas than the national average. Record low natural gas prices have helped prevent electricity prices from increasing in states that use natural gas for electricity generation. Unfortunately, Colorado only uses 14% natural gas for the state’s electricity generation, compared to 21% for the national average. Therefore, the slight increase over the national average is likely due to Colorado’s use of more expensive electricity sources.
Heartland also promoted fossil fuel-funded Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy Executive Director Marita Noon’s misinformed blog attacking renewable energy policies, including the renewable energy standard in Colorado.