Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 1, 2023


Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568,

Analysis: 4 Years Into Polis Administration, Coal Is Still Colorado’s Main Electricity Source as State Lags Behind on Green Energy

DENVER— Four years into Gov. Jared Polis’ administration, Colorado lags behind many other states in transitioning to a renewable energy economy, according to recently released U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Coal remains Colorado’s dominate source of electricity generation, with 37% of the state’s power fueled by coal compared to the national average of 20%, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly.

“Sadly, the data reveals Colorado is still running on dirty fuels that continue to harm our health and spoil the state’s natural splendor,” said Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health attorney at the Center. “While the Polis administration excels at making excuses like it hopes our energy will be cleaner in the future, the people, forests and wildlife of Colorado can’t hold their breath for years and years.”

Colorado trails the country and other states in the transition to a clean energy economy. Colorado burns more coal than the national average, generating 37% of its electricity from coal in the state compared to the national average of only 20%.

Colorado generates less renewable energy than many nearby states. For example, even though it has over 2 million more people than Utah, it generated less solar power than Utah did in 2022.

In terms of wind power, compared to Colorado’s 29%, Iowa generated over twice as much at 63%; South Dakota was at 55%; and North Dakota was at 37%. Four states neighboring Colorado are also outperforming it, with 47% for Kansas, 44% for Oklahoma, 35% for New Mexico, and 31% for Nebraska.

The continued burning of coal and methane gas causes soot and sulfur dioxide pollution that results in death and disease for Coloradans, damage to wildlife and trees, and an unsightly haze in places like Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado’s 2022 Sources of Electricity Generation (Note: The total for all sources is greater than 100% because of rounding.)
Source Generation (Gw-h) Percentage
Coal 21,723 37%
Wind 16,706 29%
Methane gas 15,612 27%
Solar 3,780 6%
Large hydroelectric 1,685 3%
All sources 58,407 100%
Denver's smog-choked skyline/courtesy Dennis Schroeder
Denver's smog-choked skyline/Dennis Schroeder Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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