CEA Looking forward to the 2019 Colorado Legislative Session

There are a number of energy bills that Clean Energy Action is looking forward to seeing work their way through the Colorado Legislature in 2019—and there are a few we are hoping don’t get introduced. Below is a brief summary with more details to follow in future CEA newsletters. 

Bills Almost Certainly To Be Considered in 2019

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals: While the details are not yet known, CEA expects the 2019 Colorado Legislature to support a Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) reduction bill with targets for 2030 and 2050.

Natural Gas Regulation: While the details are unclear, now that the Colorado Supreme Court has turned back the effort to give more attention to health and environmental impacts of natural gas production, the Legislature is likely to take up one or more bills to increase local control and improve protections for health and the environment. It appears this will be a high priority for 2019.

Solar Gardens: HB19-1003 has been introduced by Representatives Chris Hansen (D-Denver) and Alex Valdez (D-Denver) and would increase the size of solargardens from 2 MW to 5 MW and lift the requirement that subscribers live in the County where the solar garden is built or an adjacent county. The bill passed the House Energy and Environment Committee on January 17, 2019.

PUC Reauthorization: The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) is up for reauthorization in 2019. CEA expects the State Legislature to take a hard look at what the PUC has and hasn’t been doing well.

Bills CEA Hopes to See in 2019 or 2020

Microgrids: The technology to create microgrids that can operate independently or largely independently of the grid is rapidly evolving. CEA hopes to see a bill supporting the development of microgrids in this 2019 legislative session or the following one.

Improved PUC “Metrics:” To obtain the best planning outcomes for the state and the planet it is critical that the PUC start to:

a) Take external cost issues seriously and incorporate these in their decision making

b) Do their analyses at a discount rate that more closely matches that of utility customers (e.g. 3-5%) instead of at the utility’s discount rate of approximately 7%. This will avoid the current outcome of greatly discounting future fuel costs. A lower discount rate will make the future fuel cost savings from renewable energy more obvious.

c) Ensure that planning portfolios demonstrate the minimum Present Value Revenue Requirement (“PVRR”) and not just allow utilities to show a few portfolios without finding the true minimun.

Renewable Thermal Standard: It is becoming clear that a key step in moving to a truly clean energy future is to start using renewable technologies to address our heating demands. Colorado has made good progress in reducing the carbon intensity of electricity. Now time to reduce the use of fossil fuels for heating.

Bills CEA is Watching Carefully

“Securitization”: HB19-1037, introduced by Representative Chris Hansen would set up the option for Colorado to issue “Ratepayer Obligation Charge” (“ROC”) bonds to pay off stranded assets like coal plants and to create a fund to help communities and workers transition off fossil fuels. While CEA supports the goals of the bill, the mechanism proposed (i.e. ROC bonds), in and of themselves, does not appear to be the most direct, effective or equitable mechanism to achieve the goals related to helping Colorado move beyond fossil fuels.

A Bill We Hope We Don’t See

Ratepayer Funding of Carbon Capture Research: It appears that, rather than admit they made a mistake in building the Comanche 3 coal plant, Xcel may propose that their customers fund research on “carbon capture,” a process that is chemically feasible, but highly unlikely to work at a price or scale that will keep significant quantities of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere and the oceans for the long run.

Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy