On June 4, the city of Colorado Springs’ electrical utility signed a two-year contract for 108,000 megawatt-hours of wind power in a new effort partly aimed at gauging demand.
As of yesterday, 96.5 percent of that power has been claimed by customers.
From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Large customers such as military bases and universities have tentatively agreed to take 102,730 megawatt-hours, and Utilities’ existing Green Power customers will take another 1,578 megawatt-hours of the pool, leaving 3,800 megawatt-hours up for grabs. …
Council members said they were concerned that Utilities wouldn’t find enough customers willing to pay a premium for renewable energy, leaving other ratepayers to foot the bill, which would have increased bills by as much as 2 percent. The short-term contract with Xcel will be cost-neutral to average ratepayers, Romero said.
The city considered a 20-year contract for a large amount of power, but worried that a lack of demand would commit all of their costumers to higher rates over the long-term. Based on initial response, that concern seems to have been unfounded. A 20-year contract would have had additional benefits, as noted by the Sierra Club’s Bryce Carter: locking in a cost that, while higher now, promises to become cheaper than fossil fuel-based power as extraction costs of the latter climb. If the federal production tax credit for wind is renewed, the utility will consider a longer contract next year.
Colorado law mandates that public utilities generate 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. In Colorado Springs, customers join the “Green Power” program to have renewable-generated energy. According to The Gazette, “the program has been sold out for seven years, with more than 400 customers on a waiting list.”