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How Denver is Combating Global Warming by Becoming a Solar Energy Leader

Publish Date: December 30th, 2019

As headlines regarding climate change grow more alarming, individuals and businesses are getting creative as to how to cut back on their environmental footprint.

Change, however, is badly needed on an even larger scale. Cities are responsible for more than 70% of global C02 emissions which is why it’s encouraging to see municipalities across the country, including Denver, taking responsibility for their output. While this might seem like a costly undertaking, research is showing sustainable energy sources are quickly outpacing fossil fuels in terms of affordability. By 2030, wind and solar energy will be the most economical sources of electricity, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In fact, according to the research firm, in some parts of the world, solar is already cheaper than coal.

As a Colorado company, Namaste Solar is proud that the Mile High City is leading the charge on renewable energy. Here’s how and why our fair metropolis is getting recognized for its renewable energy efforts.

Solar star

In April 2019, Environment America ranked Denver among its top 10 Shining Cities: the Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy based on solar PV installs per capita as well as total solar PV installed. In 2014, the city also garnered much deserved praise from the environmental organization and was listed as one of their Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution.

A cleaner future

In 2018, city officials announced the 80x50 Climate Action Plan. According to the city, the goal of this ambitious plan is to:

  • Reduce total community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025.
  • Make all new buildings net-zero by 2035.
  • Achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in municipal facilities by 2025 and community-wide by 2030.
  • Increase electric vehicle registrations to 30 percent by 2030.

Greener roofs

Sometimes the roof really is greener on the other side. After a close 2017 vote (54% to 46%), Denverites opted to take on the Denver Green Building Ordinance. This ordinance now requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to cover a percentage of their roof with a green roof or solar panels.

The goals of the ordinance are to help reduce energy consumption, reduce the urban heat island effect, manage storm water, increase urban biodiversity for pollinators, and improve Denver’s air quality. An updated version of the initiative was passed by Denver City Council on November 2, 2018, and the ordinance is now in effect.

Legislative action

This year proved to be a big year for solar during the Colorado legislative session. Lawmakers passed the Community Solar Modernization Act, Sunset Public Utilities Commission, and the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution – all of which will impact the solar industry. All were signed into law, so let’s dive into each of them.

The Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act, or HB19-1003, increased the maximum size of community solar gardens from two megawatts to five megawatts. The bill also removed the requirement that subscribers of the solar garden must reside in the same county as the community shared solar array.

The Sunset Public Utilities Commission bill, or SB19-236, reauthorized the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for another seven years and declared the rights of every Coloradan “to generate, consume, store, and export electricity from eligible energy resources.” Among the bill’s other directives includes a mandate to, starting in 2020, evaluate the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in certain public utility proceedings. The bill also instructs the commission to investigate performance-based incentives and metrics. Performance-based incentives are a way to align utility incentives with public benefit goals which include more distributed generation. This, in turn, gives customers more options to go solar.

The Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution bill cemented Colorado’s statewide goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025, at least 50% by 2030, and at least 90% of the levels of greenhouse gas emitted in 2005 by 2050. As going solar is a great way to reduce pollution, there’s a chance this bill could greatly impact the number of solar installations over the next decade and beyond.

Let’s get sunny

Denver’s commitment to becoming more energy-efficient is inspiring to say the least, and we’re excited to work in a city whose leaders prioritize reducing its environmental impact. Join Denver and do some research to see if solar energy is the right option for you – perhaps you too can take part in making our fair city a little sunnier.


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