Fort Collins adopts 100 percent renewable electricity resolution

Julia Trowbridge

Fort Collins is joining 85 other cities across the United States in pledging to use 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

The City of Fort Collins passed a resolution 6-1 Oct. 2 establishing the City’s goals of having 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Fort Collins, following Longmont, is the second city to commit to this electricity goal out of the four cities that own Platte River Power Authority.

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“I think the Fort Collins community as a whole has always wanted to be a leader in a way that sustains the Earth and the environment that we work in and using the resources we have,” said Lisa Rosintoski, customer connections manager for the City of Fort Collins Utilities. “It’s always been in the fiber of the community.”

The resolution matches Colorado State University’s renewable electricity goal. CSU and the City have been working together on decreasing Fort Collins’ carbon footprint and are both interested in the best way to achieve this goal, said Carol Dollard, a CSU energy engineer.

“We are excited that the City and CSU have a shared goal (as well as many other businesses in town),” Dollard wrote in an email to The Collegian. “We look forward to helping everyone get to a more sustainable energy future.”

This resolution is a step up from the previous Climate Action Plan, which aimed for 80 percent less carbon emissions than 2005 levels. Although the plan may seem ambitious, it is attainable through working with PRPA, Rosintoski said.

We are excited that the City and CSU have a shared goal (as well as many other businesses in town). We look forward to helping everyone get to a more sustainable energy future.”
– Carol Dollard, CSU Energy Engineer

The resolution was really fueled by community support for renewable energy, said John Phelan, the energy services manager for the City of Fort Collins Utilities. With this, the City is analyzing the best way to reach this new goal from a triple bottom line of system reliability, financial sustainability and environmental responsibility.

“And other (businesses) were like ‘this is important to us because the workforce we’re trying to attract wants these qualities in a company and the place that they work around renewable electricity,’” Phelan said. “It’s not as simple as just the price of electricity.”

Steve Roalstad, communications and marketing manager for PRPA, said that 32 percent of the electricity they provide is renewable. PRPA has tripled their contract for purchasing wind energy and plans to buy 20 megawatts of solar energy. The overall goal of PRPA is to have 50 to 52 percent of their energy sources be renewable by 2021.

With PRPA’s three pillars of system reliability, financial sustainability and environmental responsibility, it is initiating an integrated resource planning process to best satisfy renewable energy wants and needs, Roalstad said.

“Fundamentally, (PRPA) is a collaborative effort, and our primary mission is to help our community meet their energy goals,” Roalstad said. “We understand our customers want more and more to move toward a cleaner energy future.”

This triple bottom line may all converge together as prices for renewable energy are becoming more and more competitive, Rosintoski said.

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Town Hall Meeting with Platte River Power Authority

Oct. 25 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Hilton

The other two cities that own PRPA are Loveland and Estes Park. Loveland’s City Council has not talked about a renewable electricity goal said Jacki Marsh, Loveland’s mayor, but Marsh believes the 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 goal is not a stretch.

“I support it with the same caveats as PRPA; we must maintain reliability and affordability,” Marsh wrote in an email to The Collegian. “For me, it is not a great leap of faith to believe we will get to 100 percent but 2030. I actually believe it be sooner.”

Although talks on renewable electricity plans have not started in Estes Park, Todd Jirsa, Estes Park’s mayor and chair of PRPA’s board, said that PRPA’s integrated resource plan will help guide Estes Park towards the future.

“I can assure you the Town and Platte River Power Authority are working together to understand and meet the needs of the Estes Park community,” Jirsa wrote in an email to The Collegian.

Although Rosintoski doesn’t believe that Fort Collins’ renewable electricity resolution will influence Loveland or Estes Park to set the same resolution, working together could align the cities through PRPA’s integrated resource plan. 

“I can’t speak for Fort Collins… (but) the more people who are problem-solving for a solution, the better the solution and the better the comradery to get there,” Rosintoski said. “You have a lot of smart people on it, how can you fail?”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.