Trade group exec: Solar and energy storage to play big roles

Mike Kruger

Mike Kruger

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Solar energy and energy storage technology can play a significant role in meeting a goal to generate all electricity in Colorado from renewable sources, according to the new leader of a trade association.

Moreover, competitive markets will work better than mandates in achieving the goal, said Mike Kruger, president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association. “We actually think you don’t need to mandate anything.”

Kruger discussed what he said are seven principals of the organization to meet the goal during an energy briefing hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Kruger joined what’s now the Colorado Solar and Storage Association in October after communications positions with the Smart Electric Power Alliance and U.S. Department of Commerce. The Colorado Solar and Storage Association represents solar and energy storage businesses in efforts to expand solar and storage markets and advance clean energy policies.

Newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he wants the state to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

Following the principles of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association would help in meeting that goal, Kruger said.

The first principle, Kruger said, is to use all proven renewable energy technologies. That technology already is capable of meeting goals without waiting for additional breakthroughs, he said.

The second principle is to support customer choice, including the ability of customers to receive credit for using electricity generated by solar facilities located off-site, Kruger said. “If you’re a business, there’s a lot of value here.”

It’s important as well to level the playing field for all those involved in generating and distributing electricity whereas utilities tend to prioritize their won projects and resources, Kruger said. “This is one area where we think there’s a huge opportunity.”

The fourth principal is to share the benefits of solar energy and energy storage across Colorado, he said. That would mean so-called community solar gardens could be constructed anywhere.

The fifth principle is to identify grid services and compensate utilities and other companies for their efforts to make the grid more stable, Kruger said. That will spur development.

At the same time, it’s important to adjust utility rates to reflect the cost and value of services, he said. Different rates will account for the complexity of a distributed grid and varying levels of demand as well as send signals to consumers about the right and wrong times to use more electricity.

The seventh and final principle is to build a network for the future, Kruger said. The construction of a grid that brought electricity to homes and businesses across the United States ranks as one of the biggest advancements of the 20th Century. But changes will be required in the 21st Century, he said. If those changes are executed well, the grid will remain reliable even as the price of electricity drops.

Solar energy already has become competitive with other sources of energy even as manufacturing costs continue to drop, Kruger said. Meanwhile, demand for energy from renewable sources has increased.

In Colorado, the use of renewable energy has become especially important for the hospitality and outdoor recreation industries, he said.

With open and competitive markets, Kruger said solar energy and energy storage technology will fare well. “We think if you give us a chance to compete, we’ll win. And we’ll win pretty quickly.”

For more information about the Colorado Solar and Storage Association and it’s seven principles to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, visit the website at

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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