Colorado to increase solar and wind energy dependence

State regulars in Colorado have paved the way for Xcel Energy Inc., a utility holding company based in Minnesota, to dramatically boost the amount of wind and solar power in its Colorado system. The request submitted by the company was to increase these sources of energy by 25 percent, which equates to 620 megawatts of power.

Xcel already has over 2,400 megawatts of renewable energy power in Colorado, the majority of which -around 2,200- comes from wind power, with the remaining 200 being powered by solar sources. The plan, which was approved in early December by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), is specifically designed to meet the energy demands of people in the state through at least 2018. The new power will be supplied by wind farms (450 megawatts), and large solar power plants (170 megawatts).

"This is an historic moment. Colorado has been moving toward a lower-carbon future, and with the lower wind and solar costs, we have an opportunity to move that future forward," PUC chairman Joshua Epel said in a statement, as reported by the Denver Business Journal.

The increased reliance on wind and solar power continues Colorado's trend of becoming more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The Clean Energy Collective (CEC) recently completed building the new Aurora/Arapahoe solar array, a community solar project that has added 498 kilowatts of renewable power to the state. This is just the latest in this kind of work for the company, who also constructed the first community solar project in El Jebel, Colorado, in 2010. Within the last three years, they have added 5.1 megawatts of power to the state, with the goal of constructing a total of 11 of these solar gardens in Colorado.

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