Report: Monthly electric bills would increase $448 a month under Gov. Polis' energy plan

Colorado's electricity customers would see monthly cost increases of $448 by 2040 if the state's all-renewable energy mandate is implemented, according to a report from free market research groups.

The average monthly electric bill for residential, commercial and industrial customers would increase to $628 in 17 years, according to the report titled “Colorado’s Energy Future: The High Cost of 100% Renewable Electricity by 2040.” The 46-page report examines the costs and reliability of Colorado’s climate change mitigation policies. It’s the first of a three-part series on the cost of renewable energy mandates and is a joint analysis by the Independence Institute and the Center of the American Experiment.

The report found Colorado Democrat Gov. Jared Polis’s goal of the state being completely dependent on a renewable electric grid – wind, solar or batteries – by 2040 would cost $318.8 billion through 2050. The report also predicted diminished capacity to provide electricity due to fluctuations in power generation from wind and solar facilities, resulting in blackouts.

Transitioning Colorado to become completely powered by renewable energy by 2040 is a continuing policy theme for Polis.

“Since then, he has signed into law no fewer than 55 climate bills and directed his executive agencies to craft at least a dozen new regulations aimed at making his roadmap a reality,” the report said.

Polis signed Senate Bill 23-285 into law on Monday. It renamed the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Energy and Carbon Management Commission to broaden its ability to regulate more than oil and gas. He also signed House Bill 23-1210, ensuring carbon management projects are eligible for certain grants, and HB 23-1281, a tax credit for qualified uses of clean hydrogen and creating regulations for clean hydrogen projects.

The report found Colorado could meet its decarbonization goals by deadlines if the state adopts a transition to nuclear energy, noting it’s a more reliable energy source at approximately a quarter of the cost. The research found a nuclear focused, lower-cost decarbonization scenario would cost the state $88.4 billion through 2050 and would only increase the average monthly residential electricity bill to $122.

“Polis Plan costs are driven primarily by the need to massively overbuild new wind and solar facilities in a rapid time span,” the report said. “That rapid capacity increase drives additional costs associated with the need for new transmission lines to move power and large amounts of battery storage to ensure reliability when the wind does not blow, and the sun does not shine. All of this capacity expansion would also result in added expense to cover electric utility profits and the property taxes for massive increase of new physical assets.”

The report found all-sector electricity prices in Colorado increased 70% during the last 19 years. The state became the first in the nation to create a renewable portfolio standard when voters approved Amendment 37 in November 2004.

Colorado’s prices are the highest on average in the Mountain West.

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