In 2004, Colorado voters approved a referendum for a new renewable electricity standard (RES) requiring local utilities to obtain 10 percent of their power from the wind, sun, or other clean energy sources by 2015. Today, the state’s target is 30 percent by 2020, and the standard has proven an unqualified success—especially when it comes to wind. When the referendum passed, wind provided just 0.5 percent of the state’s total electricity; by the end of 2011, it provided more than 9 percent—1,805 megawatts (MW), or enough to power nearly 500,000 typical homes Wind energy expansion generated as many as 5,000 jobs in Colorado and attracted leading equipment manufacturers such as Vestas, which now has three facilities in the state employing 1,600 people Over the past five years, wind capacity has tripled to more than 50,000 MW—enough to power nearly 13 million homes and retire 44 typical coal-fired power plants. Particularly exciting is the fact that since 2005, the percentage of U.S.-manufactured components for wind turbines has jumped from 35 percent to 67 percent, keeping some 500 factories in 44 states humming. All told, the U.S. wind industry employed 75,000 people as of late 2011.
Source: Eliott Negin and Steve Clemmer, "Will Congress Take the Wind Out of Our Sails?" Catalyst Union of Concerned Scientists, Fall 2012, also online: http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/catalyst/fa12-take-the-wind-out-of-ou... [verified 4/17/14]