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Rural energy standard is bad news for Colorado

Under consideration by the Colorado state legislature is a bill (SB-252) to raise the renewable energy requirements for Rural Electric Associations from the current 10 percent standard to 25 percent. Not only will this bill significantly increase electric rates for all REA members, but nothing positive will result as the requirements are simply unattainable. Please join me in working to defeat SB-252 with its expensive and unachievable goals.

A few basic facts are in order: Both wind energy and solar energy are intermittent and unreliable, typically producing power less than 30 percent of the time. As a result, both must be backed up by hydroelectric or natural-gas power plants which continuously change power levels to compensate for the variability of these so-called “energy sources.” In the case of natural-gas backup, more fuel is used and more carbon dioxide is emitted than if the natural-gas plant were simply run at steady power – that is, if there were no wind turbines used at all.

For any electrical grid in which wind power accounts for more than about 8 percent of total power, the variability of power causes the grid to become unstable. For example, in Denmark, Germany, Holland and Spain, each of which has wind-power capacity that exceeds 10 percent of total power consumption, the average wind-power usage is around 4 percent. As a result, construction of new wind turbines has all but stopped throughout Europe. It is fair to question the accuracy of power usage figures for those states across the U.S. that claim more than 10 percent renewable energy usage.

Carl G. Langner