Next-gen energy technology can give rural Colorado a much-needed boost
Author: Rod Pelton - April 17, 2018 - Updated: April 17, 2018
Isn’t technology grand?
In the last decade, we’ve seen advancements in technology drive the price of 70 inch TVs from $15,000 in 2007 to around $1,000 today. Think about that. In ten years, a six foot wide TV went from something only the very wealthy could afford to something you could buy with the crumbs of a bonus you got because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The price for a gigabyte of hard drive storage in 2010 was about 10 cents. Today it’s 1.9 cents. Your teenager will likely never run out of storage for all the selfies taken with the phone that didn’t even exist when said teenager was born.
We’re seeing similar price drops in renewable energy with the latest bids for wind energy coming in at 1.9 cents per kWh, solar at 3.1 cents and wind with storage at a remarkable 2.1 cents per kWh. Prices for wind and solar energy have been cut in half since 2010.
With bids this low, it would have been shocking if the Public Utilities Commission didn’t give the initial nod to Xcel Energy to advance the Colorado Energy Plan to the next stage.
But wait you say, those wind towers are ugly.
I get that they change the landscape, but so do oil and gas wells, feedlots and hog farms. I’m sure there were people in the 1960’s saying the same about those dratted center pivot sprinklers. Let’s face it, they are all uglier than my beloved sandhills untouched by anything. But do you know what is uglier? Doing nothing. A deserted Main Street and abandoned school is about as ugly as it gets.
Poverty isn’t pretty either.
Rural Colorado has to find ways to increase our total economic activity at a pace that matches inflation just to maintain our current population or we’ll see increased poverty or declining population (leading to abandoned Main Streets) or both.
If we want to see more or even most of our kids stay home, we have to grow the rural economy at inflation plus the percentage of kids we are tired of exporting. It’s just math.
Rural Colorado produces food and energy. Technology combined with growing demand makes it possible for us to grow our energy economy while providing the cheapest electricity on the grid for Xcel’s customers. And, it’s a form of energy that an increasing number of those customers are asking Xcel to deliver.
I look forward to seeing what projects are chosen by Xcel for the final approval process by the PUC, and I look forward to the opportunities those projects provide rural Colorado.