The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) develops an advocacy plan for getting the Fort Collins City Council to adopt a goal of 80% community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions by 2030 compared to 2005emission levels. This goal was originally developed by the FCSG during a series of “Climate Solutions Retreats” held in the spring of 2009.
The Fort Collins City Council begins a two year process of determining how it might strengthen its 2008 the Climate Action Plan. The 2008 plan set goals of reducing community greenhouse gas emissions 2.9% by 2012, 20% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 compared to the 2005 baseline.
The Platte River Power Authority (PRPA), which is owned by and provides electricity to Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland, and Estes Park, states that it is “investigating options” for reducing its CO2 emissions 20% by 2020, 35% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. Since roughly half of Fort Collins’ GHG emissions come from the electric power sector, the FCSG realizes that the PRPA’s 2030 target will have to be strengthened if Fort Collins is to be able to achieve the goal of 80% overall GHG emissions reductions by 2030.
The FCSG and the Ft. Collins-based Community for Sustainable Energy (CforSE) give a presentation to Sustainable Revolution Longmont (SRL, which later changed its name to Sustainable Resilient Longmont) about the importance of getting the PRPA to reduce its GHG emissions faster than planned – by at least 80% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The FCSG and CforSE urge SRL to push the Longmont City Council to adopt GHG emissions goals similar to those of Fort Collins. This meeting marks the beginning of a collaboration between these three organizations.
Sustainable Resilient Longmont calls for the Sustainability and Climate Plan that was shelved in 2010 to be completed.
The Fort Collins City Council unanimously approves the 2015 Climate Action Plan Framework, which includes the following community goals: 20% GHG emissions reductions by 2020, 80% GHG emissions reductions by 2030, and 100% GHG emissions reductions by 2050. It also includes a target of 80% emissions reductions in the electric power sector by 2030. However, the PRPA soon makes clear that it has not actually committed to meeting this final goal.
The FCSG meets with members of the Protect Our Loveland Renewables Team, marking the beginning of a collaboration between these two organizations on items of mutual interest, including getting the PRPA to add renewables to the grid instead of building a new gas-fired power plant.
Protect Our Loveland members meet with other activists from Fort Collins and Longmont who were interested in joining with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 team to try to form an alliance to push the PRPA to commit to reaching a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Loveland activists start a new grassroots group, Renewables Now Loveland, formed specifically with a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030 and to be in lock step with the other three sister municipalities served by the PRPA in reaching that common goal.
The PRPA Board approves moving forward with developing a “Customized Resource Plan Study” for its four owner communities, which would allow those communities to achieve customized levels of renewably generated electricity. This effort is largely driven by the desire of Fort Collins elected officials to achieve at least 80% GHG emissions reductions in the electric power sector by 2030.
Longmont City Council passes a Sustainability Plan.
The website EVSOLARGARDEN.weebly.com is launched to stimulate interest and discussion concerning renewable energy in the Estes Valley, as well as to start a dialogue involving residents, the Estes Park Utility, and the PRPA. The site advocated for utility scale solar arrays located at Rawhide Flats. The ensuing dialogue led to the formation of the Estes Valley Sustainability Group and to a useful ongoing relationship with Jason Frisbee, the CEO of the PRPA.
The Estes Valley Sierra Club subgroup holds its first meeting, and soon informs the Estes Park Town Council that it looks forward to working with them in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Northern Colorado Partners for Clean Energy (NCP4CE) holds its first meeting to discuss working together to push the PRPA to provide more renewably-generated electricity and less fossil-fuel generated electricity. Representatives from all four PRPA owner communities attend. We agree on a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Current (2019) member organizations of NCP4CE are 350 Northern Colorado, Colorado Renewable Energy Society, Colorado Sierra Club, Community for Sustainable Energy, EnergyShouldBe.org, Environment Colorado, Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, Renewables Now Loveland, Sustainable Resilient Longmont, and Transition Fort Collins.
The Estes Valley Indivisible Environment Group forms. Shortly thereafter, the Estes Valley Sustainability Group, Sierra Club subgroup, and the Indivisible Environment Group join together under an umbrella organization, the Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition (EVCEC), which has more than 100 members.
SRL launches a “Ready for 100 Campaign” in conjunction with the Sierra Club to promote moving toward a commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Volunteers collect signatures, hold events and speak frequently at City Council meetings. They obtain 1500 signatures as well as dozens of hand-written post cards.
In response to pressure generated by NCP4CE member organizations, the PRPA announces that it will include a 100% renewable scenario in its Customized Resource Plan Study. This scenario is called the “Zero Net Carbon” option. At this time, the PRPA states that it is considering nine other scenarios featuring less renewables than would be needed to achieve ZNC goal.
SRL holds open forums for all candidates running for city council. All candidates are asked questions about how they would commit to sustainability and also whether they would commit to supporting 100% renewable energy by 2030. All candidates except one (who wasn’t elected) commit to that support.
The PRPA releases its Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) Study, which does not include any scenarios featuring less renewable generating capacity than would be required to achieve ZNC. The study found that achieving ZNC electricity by 2030 would not be significantly more expensive than a “business as usual”, fossil fuel-heavy strategy.
NCP4CE releases the first of two critiques of the ZNC study, which was completed by the Catalyst Cooperative.
Longmont’s newly elected Mayor, Brian Bagley, signs a Mayoral Proclamation committing to the goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
The Longmont City Council passes a resolution calling for the City to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Teams from the EVCEC interview all members of the Estes Park Town Council to understand how they view the environment, sustainability, and renewable energy. These teams also interview Estes Park business owners, collecting thirty signatures in support of transitioning to renewable energy. In addition, they interview Jason Frisbee and members of the PRPA staff. Finally, EVCEC members show up in significant numbers at Town Council meetings to advocate for renewable energy. A major issue early on was to promote clean electricity for the Estes Valley, similar to that which would be provided to Fort Collins and other municipalities served by the PRPA.
NCP4CE releases the second of its two critiques of the ZNC study, which was completed by Energy Strategies. Both critiques point out a number of conservative assumptions made by the PRPA that made renewable electricity appear to be less attractive than it would be under more favorable assumptions, and suggest that the strategy featured in the ZNC study of a) installing a new natural gas plant, b) installing significantly more renewables than would be needed to meet PRPA owner community electricity requirements in order to c) offset the emissions produced by the natural gas plant by selling power to other utilities would be highly problematic.
A newly formed coalition, Fort Collins Partners for Clean Energy (FCP4CE), releases a proposed resolution that would set a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 for the City of Fort Collins. FCP4CE members advocate for passage of this resolution over the next six months.
The EVCEC makes clean energy an issue during the election for three seats on the Estes Park Town Council.
The Fort Collins City Council passes a resolution calling for the City to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The Estes Park Town Board passes a resolution supporting the PRPA’s anticipated plan to reach a 100% non-carbon resource mix by 2030.
The Loveland City Council passes a resolution similar to the one passed by the Estes Park Town Board.
The PRPA Board votes to approve the goal of delivering 100% non-carbon electricity to its four owner communities by 2030. This goal is included in its new “Resource Diversification Policy.” The new policy notes that a number of “advancements must occur in the near term” in order to meet the 100% non-carbon goal, including the development of a regional market for electricity, improved battery performance, improved transmission and distribution infrastructure, and improved grid and end-user management systems.
Since the adoption of the 100% non-carbon electricity goal, NCP4CE has continued to advocate for achieving that goal. Ongoing activities include:
- Regular attendance at all PRPA monthly board meetings
- Regular (thrice yearly) meetings of the coalition.
- Regular meetings with PRPA staff by the members of the Modeling Working Group, which has developed an independent model to evaluate different paths toward the 2030 goal.
- Regular meetings with PRPA staff by the members of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Engagement Team, which monitors development of the IRP and encourages PRPA’s customers to make their voices heard in that process.