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RMFU asks for candidate endorsement for renewable energy

Denver-Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) joined with the Colorado Corn Growers, the Colorado AFL-CIO, the Colorado Building Trades Council and Environment Colorado as part of the Coalition for Colorado’s New Energy Future, asking all of Colorado’s candidates to endorse the “Plan for Colorado’s New Energy Future”. The plan will encourage homegrown renewable energy, increase energy efficiencies and investment in bold new energy technologies, and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

The members of the coalition held press conferences today at the state Capitol, as well as Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. Speaking on behalf of RMFU was Executive Director Lee Swenson, Centennial, Colo.; Board Member Charles Klaseen, Crawford, Colo.; and Cooperative Development Specialist Dan Hobbs, Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Colorado doesn’t have to rely on foreign oil from unfriendly and war torn nations to power cars,” said Swenson. “Colorado has an alternative. Its farmers can grow crops to produce affordable biofuels and supply 10 percent of our fuel needs by 2015.” Through “The Plan for Colorado’s New Energy Future”, the coalition is asking candidates to support policies that increase the use of clean, homegrown renewable energy in Colorado, policies and technologies that increase energy efficiency, reduce energy use, and save consumers money. The plan also asks the candidates to endorse increasing the use of farm-based biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, while investing more public and private dollars in research and development of new energy technologies.

RMFU sees Colorado as having the potential to generate nearly 13 times our current consumption of electricity from wind power alone. Similarly, solar electricity systems could absorb enough energy from Colorado’s more than 300 days of sun, each year, to produce roughly twice our current consumption. Colorado is the fifth best solar resource in the country.

“By installing cost saving energy efficiency measures, Colorado can make existing electrical generation and heating systems 10 percent more by 2015,” said RMFU Board Member Charles Klaseen. “Leading utilities in states across the country from New Jersey to Minnesota to Oregon are already achieving similar results. Excel energy is implementing cutting edge efficiency programs in Minnesota that could be a model for Colorado.”

Colorado is home to a rapidly growing biofuel industry. Currently, ethanol accounts for five and half percent of our total gasoline consumption. New plants with the capacity to produce millions more gallons are under construction along the Front Range and eastern plains. Colorado’s agricultural land has the potential to provide 10 percent of transportation fuel needs by 2015.

“Biofuels are cost competitive with petroleum fuels,” said RMFU Cooperative Development Specialist Dan Hobbs. “Across Colorado, prices for fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol, referred to as E85, are typically lower than prices for conventional gasoline.”

The price of 20 percent biodiesel blends, known as B20, which historically sold for a premium in Colorado, has been on par with conventional diesel fuel through 2005 and 2006.

“We have a demonstrated commitment of farmers, ranchers, county commissioners and rural communities across this state to play a key role in renewable energy development,” said Swenson. “A strong partnership between the state and its citizens can and will create good jobs, save consumers money, protect our environment and revitalize our state’s economy.”

RMFU, celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year, has over 23,000 members in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. RMFU is a proud supporter of the “Plan for Colorado’s New Energy Future”.

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