At a regional hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan July 29, COSEIA Executive Director Rebecca Cantwell testified in favor of the plan to reduce Carbon Emissions. Below is the testimony she shared with an EPA Panel:

Testimony in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan – July 29, 2014

My name is Rebecca Cantwell. I am the Executive Director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) and I am pleased to speak to you today in support of the Clean Power Plan, and wish to thank the EPA for the hard work in developing this rule.

This landmark proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants offers a sensible approach to addressing global warming, the most pressing issue of our time. The beauty of the challenge before us is that while it will take hard work, the solutions are right outside the door:  the sun that beams down 300 days a year  here in Colorado and the wind that blows across our plains every day.

These sources of proven, reliable clean energy can power the future in a way that not only eases the threat of catastrophic climate change but also provides jobs and economic development right here at home.

Thus, we are pleased that the proposed 111(d) rule  allows states to take advantage of solar as part of a diverse compliance portfolio. We are also pleased solar is included in the definition of the Best System of Emission Reduction (BSER) as we believe solar has a large role to play in helping states reach compliance as a  competitively priced C02 offset. Nationally, solar can be expected to avoid 13.8 million metric tons of CO2 in 2014. With the right policies in place, solar has  the potential to offset a great deal  more under the Clean Power Plan.

The need to act is urgent. I am a Colorado native and love this magnificent state- the inspiration for America the Beautiful.  But last year, for the first time in memory, we had fatal wildfires followed only a few months later by fatal floods.  Increasing extreme weather events are mounting  all around us. And we know these impacts- here and around the world– will continue to  escalate, causing political disruption and eventually threatening everything we hold dear.

Colorado is known as a clean energy leader and our policies have been in part a model for the Clean Power Plan.  But Colorado still gets about two-thirds of its electricity from burning coal and the plan would require cleaning up the state’s carbon pollution 35% from 2005 levels.

We believe the solar industry can play a critical role. As we like to say, Solar is the Solution.

Last fall, the Solar Foundation did the most in-depth study ever of the economic and environmental  impacts of the solar industry on Colorado. Just since 2007, after Colorado voters passed a Renewable Energy Standard, the solar energy industry:

— Has created the equivalent of 10,790 jobs, leading to  employee earnings of over $534.1 million;

— Generated  economic output worth  $1.42 billion;

–Been responsible for about  $24.3 million in environmental benefits achieved through avoiding emissions of pollutants tied to conventional electricity production, and;

— Generated savings of nearly 300 million gallons of water, which would have otherwise been consumed as part of the electricity generation process.

Last year, COSEIA announced Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs– a campaign setting a goal to increase solar deployment to 3 Gigawatts by 2030, or roughly 10 times the amount of solar installed today. This program can become a key part of how Colorado will meet the emissions reductions of the Clean Power Plan. We have mapped out a path to reach this goal, and there is evidence all around us that it is not only achievable, but becoming more cost effective every day.

Just last week, Colorado’s  biggest utility, Xcel Energy announced it will buy the solar power from a new 156 MW solar project for 25 years at rates competitive with the long-term prices for natural gas generation.   More than 20,000 Coloradans have made the choice to put solar energy systems on their homes and businesses already.

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