Colorado is going to be getting $13.2 billion in incentive money to spawn the growth of the clean energy industry and reduce carbon emissions. The regional head of the Environmental Protection Administration made the announcement in Denver Wednesday at a solar industry conference.
“I think the climate crisis is obviously one of the most critical things we have to address now and we have to do it quickly and this money in the Inflation Reduction Act is really going to accelerate our move to clean energy and really address a climate solution,” said regional administrator KC Becker.
While more details will come out this summer, the money will be distributed over the next four years to try to create change and expand the growing renewables industry.
“We are mostly going to be funding, state local governments, tribes and nonprofits who are then going to take that money and leverage it for clean energy development,” said Becker.
It will have to be set for use by 2026. A large percentage will be devoted to communities facing challenges to help low income people afford conversion to renewables and hopefully push the creation of jobs in the industry.
“It’s going to be a lot more. it’s going to be a lot more on roofs. It’s going to be a lot more in communities, it’s going to be a lot more large thousand-acre facilities,” said Mike Kruger, President and CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.
“The IRA represents an enormous opportunity to jump-start both the supply side and the demand side,” said Cary Hayes, President of REC Americas, one of the nation’s bigger players in the solar panel market.
The manufacturing of solar panels has slipped away from the United States over the years due to China’s support of its industry, low wages and lax environmental enforcement.
“I think we need, us as a country, a robust manufacturing presence in this country, said Hayes. “I think it’s in our national interest to do so. From a true financial picture, we’re going to find out 10 years from now.”
It is not easy to create manufacturing, he pointed out.
“It’s not super high on our list currently, to be honest. Because of wage rates, labor rates, demographics and supply chain.”
Colorado itself may not pick up manufacturing because it is easier in places where supply chain proximity is simpler, among other issues.
“We’re here in the middle of the country in Colorado. Much easier close to a port, someplace, 100, 200 miles away from the water.”
But jobs are created with installation, engineering and design.
“Five plus types of contractors were at my home over some time,” explained Denver homeowner Sekhar Paladugu.
He and his husband used incentives and rebates to supplement a full re-do of their home. It has solar on the roof, heat pump furnace and water heater, battery for storage and EV hookup in the garage.
Their highest utility bills before conversion were over $650 a month.
“March might be the first month that I produce more than my house needs,” he shared.
And doing the math, they come out ahead on the cost of all the work.
“Plan ahead. Make the change that’s better for the climate. Better for the long term, better for your bills,” he said.