Colorado renewable energy and energy efficiency

Colorado has invested in many renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, biomass,

geothermal, and small hydroelectric. Colorado obtains most of its renewable generation from wind power. The Colorado state government also encourages institutions to research energy efficiency. The state government and utilities offer numerous financial incentives to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and the development of energy efficiency throughout the state, including energy efficiency rebate programs, solar rebate programs, efficiency loans, and more.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Colorado

In 1979, Colorado passed its solar access laws, which prevent any residential covenants that restrict solar access. In 2008, this law was extended to protect wind turbines which meet the state's interconnection standards, as well as certain energy efficiency measures.

The state has seen a dramatic increase in renewable energy programs since 2004, the year when the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was passed. After several rounds of updates, the RPS now requires Investor-owned Utilities (IOUs) to obtain 30% of retail electricity sales from renewables by 2020. The LEED rating system used to improve the building energy efficiency was adopted in 2005, and all new buildings are expected to improve energy efficiency through a practical and cost-effective way. The Greening of State Government Executive Orders, signed in 2007, mandates state departments, agencies, offices, and higher education institutions to reduce energy consumption through detailed energy management plans. This goal was updated in 2015, requiring additional reductions in energy consumption by 20201. In 2009, the state legislature enacted the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Schools Loan Program. This program supports the installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures for K-12 school districts.

Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard

In 2004, Colorado became the first state to pass a Renewable Portfolio Standard by ballot initiative. This RPS required qualified utilities to generate a certain proportion of electricity from eligible energy resources; the proportion varies between different utilities.

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are required to reach 30% of retail electricity sales by 2020 and every year thereafter. Municipal utilities serving more than 40,000 customers and cooperative utilities that provide service to fewer than 100,000 meters are required to reach 10% of the retail electricity sales by 2020. Electric cooperatives serving 100,000 or more meters are subject to a higher requirement of 20% of retail electricity sales for 2020 and each year thereafter.

Important renewable energy organizations in Colorado

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) is a non-regulatory department within the Governor's office, which helps the state to deliver cost-effective energy service and efficient energy practices which ensures the healthy environment and energy security of the state.

The Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) was founded in 1996. It is an organization that promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout the state by providing education, policy advocacy, and community engagement. Through all these activities, CRES is aimed to accelerate the adoption of all forms of renewable energy and new energy technologies to help Colorado achieve 100% renewable energy2.

The Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA) is an industry-led organization founded in 2008. CCIA puts effort into finding opportunities to expand the cleantech industry in Colorado to ensure cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy resources.

The Colorado Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development (CREED) is an organization co-sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the State of Colorado, and a community of organizations committed to economic development and entrepreneurship.

The Interwest Energy Alliance is a leading regional driver for promoting renewable energy development in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. It is a non-profit trade association that cooperates the nation's renewable energy industry with the West's advocacy community in a consensus-based, collaborative approach to market development in these states3.

How to go solar in Colorado

You can install solar panels on your property and benefit directly from solar energy in Colorado. The best way to go solar is to compare multiple quotes - you can join the EnergySage Marketplace for free to begin comparing your options from installation companies near you. Want to start with a little more research? Check out average prices for solar in Colorado, or read through reviews of the best local solar installers in Colorado.


  1. ACEEE. “Colorado.” Accessed June 11, 2019.
  2. Colorado Renewable Energy Society. “About CRES.” Accessed June 10, 2019.
  3. Interwest Energy Alliance. “About Interwest Energy Alliance.” Accessed June 10, 2019.

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