News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: February 13, 2018

Summit County Sets Goal to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy by 2035

A group of local leaders at a climate change conference.

County plans to work collaboratively with local utility providers to facilitate transition to clean energy

Kate Berg, Senior Planner

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday, Feb. 13, committing to transition the community to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2035.  With this decision, Summit County joins the Town of Breckenridge and a growing coalition of communities throughout the country moving to 100 percent clean energy, including mountain towns like Aspen, Avon and Nederland, and larger cities including Pueblo, Boulder and Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Climate change is one of the most serious threats to Summit County’s economy, natural resources and quality of life,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “We owe it to future generations to take action, and we’re proud to join with other communities across Colorado and the nation who are identifying and implementing solutions to this very real problem.”

Summit County recently joined the Compact of Colorado Communities, to which the towns of Breckenridge and Frisco also belong, along with 25 other cities and counties across the state. The County commissioners attended the Colorado Communities Symposium in Denver earlier this month, where Colorado elected officials and community and business leaders came together to discuss collaborative strategies for advancing clean energy development, emissions reduction and climate preparedness throughout Colorado communities.  

Governor John Hickenlooper has committed the state of Colorado to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, setting a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.  Hickenlooper’s Executive Order includes a directive to partner with local governments to support locally led climate goals, including goals for 100% renewable electricity.  

“If there’s one thing that’s becoming very clear, it’s that climate action requires strong partnerships and effective collaboration across all sectors,” County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said. “We’re very excited to work together with our utility providers and our local, state and regional partners to achieve this goal in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”  

The County plans to work collaboratively with Xcel Energy and Mountain Parks Electric to lay out a shared vision and path to work toward achieving this goal.

“We are fortunate that Xcel Energy and Mountain Parks Electric are eager to work with Summit County to develop plans to increase the percentage of renewable electricity they provide us so that we can meet our 100-percent goal by 2035,” Stiegelmeier said.

Mountain Parks Electric already gets more than 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and Xcel Energy’s current Colorado Energy Plan, which has not yet been approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, proposes to provide 55% renewable electricity by 2026. These utility providers plan to continue to bring more renewable generation capacity on-line in coming years.  

Summit County’s resolution emphasizes a desire to move toward 100 percent renewable energy sources in a manner that does not adversely impact consumer electricity costs. The resolution does not require County government, residents or businesses to purchase or install renewable electricity generation systems. Rather, it sets a goal and requires the County to negotiate with the local electric utilities to reach it. Notably, for the last several years, solar and wind energy developers have bid less expensive prices per kilowatt hour than competing bids from fossil-fuel energy developers.

At the local level, Summit County has signed on to the Summit Climate Action Collaborative, an initiative being facilitated by the High Country Conservation Center as a way for local governments, businesses, ski areas, the school district and other community partners to work together on figuring out ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Summit County. The collaborative group plans to start meeting in April, and will work with the community to come up with a formal climate action plan by 2019.

“There’s a lot happening across all sectors of Summit County right now to step up efforts to transition to a low-carbon community that relies on the efficient use of renewable energy resources,” Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “We’re very excited to collaborate with the utilities and other community partners to help facilitate this transition.”  


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