The last few years have seen a shift in our energy economy as we transition to new fuels and new technologies. Market forces have changed the landscape far more quickly than regulations ever could have. The emergence of natural gas as a preferred fuel for power plants was driven by cost as much as regulation. The shift of companies like Xcel away from coal highlights the power of the consumer on the decision making of large companies.
Beyond the shift to natural gas is the incredible speed with which technology in both the power and the automobile markets are moving. As we look to the future, wind, solar, and hydro all become more viable once long-term storage of the energy produced by them becomes available. This shift will have further impacts on the extractive industries of coal, oil, and gas beyond what we are seeing as the coal industry withdraws from Western Colorado. We need to recognize that fossil fuels have become “bridge fuels” that will transition to be a smaller and smaller portion of our energy economy. The challenge for the District is to plan for the transition, look to alternatives to support our local economies, and take bold steps to lead rather than follow during this transition period.