Fact Check: Does Jared Polis have a comprehensive plan to get Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 or sooner?

Out of Gas


Jared Polis

Media Publication:

Colorado Matters

Originally Published On:

May 31, 2018


Out of Gas

Claim #1: Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis has a comprehensive plan to get Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 or sooner. 

Fact: The comprehensive plan referred to is a white paper on Polis' website.  It’s careful not to say it’s a mandate. In Polis’ own words it focuses on a “bottom-up approach using market mechanisms, like encouraging distributed wind and solar projects, removing regulatory barriers to siting wind projects on state lands and lots of other things.” It includes energy efficiency incentives, investments in local energy projects, and retraining oil, gas and coal employees for renewable energy jobs.

There is no timeline. There is no cost estimate, despite at least one study showing it could be as much as $45 billion. The plan doesn’t include any infrastructure and cost hurdles associated with adding the necessary wind and solar capacity, utility scale battery storage, and retiring the state’s entire coal and natural gas fleet.

His plan uses projections, such as consumers will save 10 percent on energy costs that rely on data from Mark Jacobson at Stanford University, which 21 prestigious researchers (several with ties to institutions in Boulder) have refuted, saying the "analysis involves errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions" and dramatically miscalculated the amount of hydroelectric power available and the cost of installing and integrating large-scale underground thermal energy storage systems.

This could lead to “wildly unrealistic expectations” and “massive misallocation of resources,” said David Victor, an energy policy researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “That is both harmful to the economy and creates the seeds of a backlash.”

California’s rush to go renewable, for instance, contributed to consumers now paying 50 percent more in power than the rest of the country.  

Rating: Out of gas

Claim #2: Oil and gas can be regulated at the local level just like the cannabis industry.

Fact: This is not a reasonable or fair comparison. Retail cannabis shops can be moved into industrial zones or other sections of towns or cities.  Natural resources are underground and cannot be moved. 

Rating: Out of Gas

Claim #3: Communities get sued when “exercising” their say and regulating oil and gas.

Fact: Communities have a say in oil and gas development, and that role was strengthened by Gov. John Hickenlooper's task force on local control in 2015. However, state law, and the Colorado Supreme Court has found local communities cannot ban oil and gas development nor can they pass laws that exceed what the state requires when it comes to regulating oil and gas development. Lawsuits have only been filed when communities have violated state law through illegal regulations.

Rating: Out of gas