Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Program Director and Adjunct Write Guest Commentary for the Denver Post

Director Don Smith and Adjunct Professor Rebecca Watson co-authored an article, The Global Impact of U.S. Oil and Gas Development, for the Denver Post. The article was published at the end of August.

The article takes a broader view of the impacts of domestic oil and gas development in the global energy market. Energy demand will only continue to rise and the U.S. stands to receive "a foreign policy dividend" from the development of its resources.

To read the whole article, visit the Denver Post here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

SCOL ENRL Program to host Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s Annual Conference

CRES Annual Confence:  this Friday, September 6
Carbon dioxide concentrations reached a record 400 parts per million in May of 2013.  This threshold not only represents an all-time high within the course of human history, but also represents a level “unsurpassed in at least 800,000 years.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that global temperature increases due to greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced to below 2 degrees Celsius if countries around the world shifted their generation and consumption of energy from fossil-fuel sources to renewables. In fact, the IPCC believes that appropriate public policies that enable renewable sources could boost their contribution to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply by mid-century.  Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) (roughly a thousand page comprehensive assessment compiled by over 120 leading experts from all over the world for IPCC‘s Working Group III).

"‘With consistent climate and energy policy support, renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human well-being by sustainably supplying energy and stabilizing the climate,’ said Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III at the report launch. ‘However, the substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging’ he added. …

Ramon Pichs, Co-Chair of the Working Group III, added: ‘The report shows that it is not the availability of the resource, but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades.’” …

Renewable energy resources have recently enjoyed some gains in Colorado.  The Colorado General Assembly passed SB 252 in 2013 that attempts to increase Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard and to encourage the capture of methane.$FILE/252_01.pdf  But some argued that SB 252 was part of a “war on rural Colorado,”  which partly has sparked secession threats from fossil-fuel rich counties in the state. Although Governor Hickenlooper signed SB 252 into law, he did so only after issuing an executive order establishing a panel to look into potential adjustments needed to implement the bill.

Some might consider Boulder’s efforts to leave the Xcel franchise and convert into a municipal utility that employs more renewable energy generation sources a step forward.  Yet, Xcel continues to throw up road blocks to the City’s efforts including a fight for whether Boulder County residents can join the City in the utility and participation in initiating a second vote on the municipalization issue.

In addition, it should be good news that the City and County of Denver was recognized as the first city in the country to qualify as a “Solar Friendly Community” under an innovative program attempting to bring down the soft costs of solar installations.  Largely because of these efforts and similar ones across the state, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found Colorado to have some of the lowest costs for installing a photovoltaic solar array in comparison to anywhere else in the United States.  Utility response to this good news about solar, however, has been to identify it as “as a potentially ‘disruptive technology’ that could compete with” their bottom line.

Xcel Energy has submitted a plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that would deeply cut solar incentives.  According to Blake Jones, of Namaste Solar, “ The utility industry sees rooftop solar as a threat to its business model…. For the solar industry in Colorado, it is a question of survival."

SB252, Boulder’s Municipalization, Xcel’s study to support cutting solar incentives, and many other exciting topics will be the focus of over a dozen sessions during this Friday’s (9/6) annual conference of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society.  ENRLP is hosting the event from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Rooms 165, 280, and the law school forum.  In addition to the sessions, there will be exhibits and an outdoor display of cutting-edge Medved, Tesla, and NREL electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Go to to register.

Guest Author: K.K. DuVivier
Professor of Energy Law and Renewable Energy Law