Holy Cross Energy received state verification for its ambitious clean energy plan this month, which confirmed that the company’s strategy to achieve a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from greenhouse by 2030 is both specific and achievable.
Holy Cross Energy created its latest clean energy plan in 2020, when the company’s board decided to extend its 2017 target of 70% carbon reduction by 2030 and opt for a full transition to renewable energy sources within a decade.
President and CEO Bryan Hannegan said the plan they have submitted for state approval is the most ambitious in Colorado currently and is at the forefront of utility companies moving renewable energy in the country.
“This is just one of six such plans of its kind anywhere in the United States,” Hannegan said. “By that I mean the level of ambition, 100%, and also how fast, 2030. That’s eight years from now. This is yesterday in terms of electric utility planning, and so that means we need to move forward at a pace and scale that will make a difference and hopefully inspire others to act on it.
Holy Cross Energy voluntarily submitted the plan to the state’s Air Pollution Control Division in December 2021 and received news this month that the emission reduction calculations in the plan are verified and result in a reduction emissions by 99% by 2030.
Hannegan said being a leader in renewable energy means the plans developed by Holy Cross officials are made up of original ideas and approaches, many of which are the first of their kind. The fact that a legitimate third party approves the feasibility of the plan is an important sign that it is moving in the right direction.
“This renewable energy lens that we developed was something we couldn’t see an analog for. It was something we really needed to pioneer,” Hannegan said. “We relentlessly take good ideas and try to bring them home, creating a culture of innovation and trying to push the boundaries, because we know we’ll have to be the first to get there to achieve our goals. “
The push to switch entirely to renewable energy is not only driven by the growing impacts of climate change. It also has a financial benefit for both the company and its customers.
Hannegan said the conventional wisdom that renewables are more expensive than fossil fuel resources is no longer true, thanks to technological improvements that have increased the efficiency of renewables while lowering cost levels. Utility companies no longer have to choose between economy and sustainability, as the two now go hand in hand.
“You look at the gas pump and the price of crude oil over $100 and then you compare that volatility in those prices to what we get when we contract a wind farm for 15 years at a fixed price. that doesn’t fluctuate based on world events or supply chain issues or inflationary expenses,” Hannegan said. “So not only are we saving money — and we’ve saved over $15 million over the years – we also provide more stable feed costs, which is about half of what all of our members pay on their month. electricity bill.”
As Eagle County’s primary energy supplier, Holy Cross Energy also feels responsible for being a leader in the county’s goal of reducing overall emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Electricity currently accounts for about a third of total emissions, and Hannegan said leading with renewable electricity will provide a sustainable alternative to other sources of greenhouse gases.
“The easiest way for us to do that as a society is to have clean electricity and then use that clean electricity as a fuel to replace oil, natural gas, propane, all the other stuff. that emit carbon,” Hannegan said. “So we have to do our job early so that everybody’s job becomes a lot easier.”
Hannegan hopes the clean energy plan that Holy Cross Energy is undertaking will serve as a model for other utility companies and provide a concrete example of how ambitious renewable energy targets can be both achievable and profitable. He said the decision to switch to origin came from listening to consumer demand for renewable energy, and that the nation’s utility companies should listen to and respond to the values of their own customers.
“I believe – and you see it from the evidence of utility commitments like these across the country – that there is no reason electric utilities can’t pivot to provide the clean energy their consumers want,” Hannegan said. “I think the most important thing that keeps us going is for our communities to speak with one very loud voice and say this is what we want, and to the extent that other communities want them to raise also voice and work with their local communities. suppliers to ensure this happens.
To learn more about Holy Cross Energy’s clean energy plan and initiatives, visit HolyCross.com/renewable-energy.