The Colorado Energy Coalition, an affiliate of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, has published its annual study measuring Colorado’s competitive position in the wind, solar, coal, natural gas, and oil industries.
Updated by Ann Rascalli
The third edition of Resource Rich Colorado compares Colorado to the 49 other states based on the presence of natural resources for energy generation, energy policies and programs, and intellectual resources for the energy industry.
“Colorado’s energy economy is among the strongest in the United States-in both fossil fuels and cleantech-and remains a leader among the states with a balanced energy philosophy,” said John Armstrong managing partner of Enserca LLC, and chair of the CEC’s Competitive Analysis Committee. “Despite our high rankings, we must be mindful of emerging regulations and challenges at a national and international level that could threaten our competitive position in the future.”
Colorado’s resource mix includes:
- The Niobrara Shale, a complex geological formation that stretches across several Western states and is believed to contain massive reserves of natural gas and oil.
- The Piceance Basin, a tight-shale field with estimated reserves of 1.5 trillion barrels of oil.
- Reserves of supercompliant coal with the lowest sulfur, mercury, and ash content, which is mixed with coal from other regions, allowing those regions to meet air quality standards.
- Excellent solar resources in south-central Colorado.
- Excellent wind resources along Colorado’s eastern border.
The study states Colorado’s abundant natural resources, growing energy employment, an aggressive Renewable Energy Standard (RES), a wealth of research and development capabilities, and a highly educated workforce make it an attractive state for new and expanding energy companies.
“When you combine the state’s rich energy resource base and integration of renewables with the nation’s second-most educated workforce, top-ranked research universities, and a business-friendly environment, it’s easy to see why Colorado ranks so highly as a competitor for industry expansion,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC.
The state’s research universities and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) continue to be an asset to the state’s climate of innovation and entrepreneurship and a main driver for energy company attraction and expansion.
GE Energy acquired a Colorado-grown company, PrimeStar Solar, in 2011 and announced its decision to locate the nation’s largest thin-film manufacturing plant in Aurora. Set to open in 2012, GE expects to create 355 new, advanced-technology jobs at this facility in the next three to five years.
While Colorado’s momentum in the energy industry continues, expiring tax credits in renewable energy and oil and gas are on the horizon and threaten growth in all energy sectors. Additionally, shifting federal regulations on how natural resources are developed will become a challenge, including those imposed on hydraulic fracturing. The conflicting resolutions of three constitutional provisions in Colorado’s constitution- TABOR, Amendment 23, and the Gallagher Amendment-create an intractable problem in resolving budgetary issues and the potential for more cuts to public education. Strengthening Colorado’s current education system also remains crucial to the state’s ability to meet the skilled workforce needs of the energy industry.
The evolving landscape of the global energy economy is also among these challenges. This edition of Resource Rich Colorado includes a new section comparing the United States with select countries around the world. The United States continues to be a top global producer and consumer of natural resources.
The third edition of Resource Rich Colorado demonstrates that Colorado’s energy economy is strong in spite of the state’s fiscal constraints and challenges from outside influences. A detailed analysis of the state’s competitive ranking in the energy industry can be found in the full report below.
The Colorado Energy Coalition (CEC), formed in 2006, is a diverse organization dedicated to strengthening the business climate in Colorado that supports all sectors within the energy industry-fossil fuels, cleantech, energy efficiency, and conservation. Members of the CEC represent the industry, finance, law, government, education, economic development, and the public workforce system. The CEC is housed at and staffed by the Metro Denver EDC.
The CEC’s Competitive Analysis Committee conducts research on Colorado’s competitive position in the national and global energy economies, results of which are published in the annual Resource Rich Colorado report. The committee also monitors climate legislation to identify business development opportunities for Colorado.