HudsonOpEdMug-e1519631443851-1280x1280.jpg

Miller HudsonMiller HudsonSeptember 24, 20187min311

Technology develops in accordance with an ethos and logic impervious to ideology. Politicians on both the right and left have been badly burned in recent years by staking policy positions presuming tomorrow will look a lot like today. Whatever you may believe about evolution in the biological realm, technology changes incrementally in response to the application of human ingenuity. This all came to mind as I listened to speakers at a workshop on Colorado’s energy resilience earlier this week at the law offices of Faegre and Benson in Denver.


Screen-Shot-2018-01-23-at-1.35.12-AM.png

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 23, 20183min1256

Among the president’s promises a lot of the business community and even plenty of Republicans were hoping he wouldn’t keep was his threatened crackdown on trade. But he has followed through in fits and starts, rattling his saber over aluminum imports here, appointing a free-trade skeptic as his U.S. trade rep there.

Along the way, he has drawn muted protests from those more often in his cheering section than not, like the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, the Colorado Farm Bureau and Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

And now, a not-so-muted rebuke from Colorado’s burgeoning solar industry following the Trump administration’s announcement it will slap tariffs on imported solar panels. No thanks, says an industry trade group; such protectionist policies against imports are in fact more hindrance than help, the group maintains. From a press release issued Monday by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association:

We are disappointed that the Trump administration is siding with a couple of foreign-controlled  solar companies over the broader interests of the robust U.S. solar industry. This unfortunate approach threatens potentially half a billion dollars worth of Colorado solar projects. We believe we can compete in an international marketplace and the success of solar in recent years demonstrates this.

They seem to see it as ironic backfire by an administration whose expressed intent is to bolster American enterprises and their employees and level the playing field. Nevertheless, the association says it’s not about to let the setback derail the industry from its promising trajectory:

… Now that we have the decision, the uncertainty of recent months will give way to creative solutions to keep solar moving forward.

We are excited about the opportunities ahead of us, and with our national partners at the Solar Energy Industries Association, we will move forward and continue to advocate against tariffs.

In other words, thanks all the same, but you’re not helping.


KfkkBvrdyUrX2EnkdHRLVD5IVi14JdWB2eu3nbGi1WgQaNo0UPxRQzzfDm_2CftPCRM758kKiPHyMLEumod_b_7R30bZNgSPw4in0n3OnhBNjZNTxXchHoOCVjXigS1Rz5342SiC-e1514351787603.jpeg

Ronald E. KeysRonald E. KeysDecember 27, 20175min409

During my 40 years serving in the United States Air Force, issues around energy were always present. We needed energy to power our bases, fuel our fleets of aircraft, and we needed all of that energy to be reliable and affordable. As we rely more and more on sophisticated technology to execute our missions, that need is ever more important.


Taylor-Henderson-e1509084289656.jpg

Taylor HendersonTaylor HendersonOctober 27, 20175min854

Colorado has a robust and growing solar energy sector, with the total installed capacity growing 70 percent last year alone. Six thousand Coloradans now develop, install and maintain solar projects across the state, while many more supply important componentry to the industry. Nearly one gigawatt of solar power is installed in the state, representing over $2.7 billion in investment and providing enough electricity for almost 200,000 homes. Unfortunately, a recent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) threatens to put a solar eclipse on those jobs, investments and future growth.


Screen-Shot-2016-03-23-at-4.29.32-AM-e1466308207731.png

Paula NoonanPaula NoonanSeptember 8, 20174min667

A recent poll conducted by Chris Keating of Keating Research, a polling and survey firm that consults primarily for Democrats including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, reveals that Colorado’s political environment parallels the nation’s, but preferences on energy issues are distinctly Coloradan.  The results come from 605 active voters, with a margin of error at 4 percent, plus or minus.

As with the country as a whole, Coloradans hold President Donald Trump at 40% favorable to 58% unfavorable, and give Gov. John Hickenlooper a 60% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating.  Numbers are more contrasting at the Very Unfavorable level, with 51% Very Unfavorable for Trump and 19% Very Unfavorable for Hickenlooper.

Since Keating works mostly for the left side of the aisle, it’s important to look at his call list.  He called 48% men and 52% women.  His age range was 18-24 at 10% up to 70+ at 15%.  Voters with children age 18 or younger comprised 27% of the sample and the split by party affiliation was 25% Democrat, 26% Republican, and 45% Independent. Colorado’s active voter registration actually divides almost equally at 32% Dem to 32% GOP to 36% Unaffiliated.

Happily, the survey shows that 64% of Coloradans think the state is headed in the “right direction” with 28% favoring the down side.

The poll’s main purpose was to explore voter commitment to four energy types as sources for development: coal, wind, solar and natural gas.  It sought especially to pinpoint voters’ views on what energy sources should increase or decrease in use.  Coloradans now have a dim view of coal, with 57% of respondents saying its use should decrease and only 18% choosing to increase its use.  Wind (+76%) and especially solar (+84%) showed the most support for increased use, with natural gas at +36%.

The survey suggests that Coloradans from both political parties want public utilities to collaborate on reducing carbon emissions: 89% agree/11% disagree.  Voters want the state to work with utilities to increase the use of clean renewable energy at 95% agree/5% disagree.  Almost 50% of voters support increasing the state’s 30% renewable energy standard to over 50%.  Most Coloradans (83%) want to take control of their energy future without waiting for the federal government to jump in.

The polling numbers indicate that Xcel’s recent decisions to add more renewable energy to its portfolio makes sense.  Closing coal plants is apparently generally acceptable to Coloradans.

Clearly, renewable solar and wind power are popular. Natural gas is holding its own despite opposition to drilling from some cities along the northern Front Range.

These results have implications for the 2018 governor and legislator races on both Democratic and Republican sides.  Democratic candidates can feel comfortable promoting more renewables.  The effect of fracking vs. anti-fracking positions on voter preference is less clear.

Republicans face a different picture in the primaries and general election.  Anti-climate change Republicans may be in sync with a majority in their party during the primary season.  But that position is deeply out of sync with a majority of voters who will cast ballots in the general election.

One other interesting set of data.  While 45% of the polled population identified as independent voters, only 25% viewed themselves as moderates.  These individuals were outnumbered by liberals at 34% and conservatives at 38%. It appears there’s a muddy middle spectrum of voters, a minority, who support reduced-carbon energy policy.  They will make a difference in how the general election turns out.