Governor Ritter continued to advance Colorado’s New Energy Economy through historic and significant bills that will bring good jobs, investment and clean power to the state. The New Energy Economy is being recognized nationally as a model for economic, energy and environmental security.
For information on the current year’s legislative session, visit the Colorado General Assembly website.
2010 House Legislation
Colorado’s renewable energy standard increases from 20% for Investor Owned Utilities to 30% by 2020. This will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade and has a distributed generation requirement that will create 100,000 solar rooftops. This standard is the second highest in the nation and highest in the Rocky Mountain West. It directs the Public Utilities Commission to consider ‘Best Value’ factors such as employment of Colorado workers when approving resource acquisitions for regulated utilities. It also creates a certification standard requirement for solar installers.
Provides for member involvement in REA governance by requiring the posting of meeting times, location and minutes, including written policies on board election procedures, candidates. It requires that board candidate names appear randomly on election ballots, prohibits any candidate or association employee from handling cast ballots without a neutral third party present, and prohibits the association from expending any money or resources, including mailings, to support or oppose a candidate in connection with a board election.
Limits the type of financial agreements in which CEDA can engage, permitting the use of commercial lending to leverage the state’s moral obligation bonding authority. The statute allows CEDA the opportunity to partner with utility-scale renewable energy developers with the financing of interconnection facilities, also known as generation tie-lines.
Allows third party independently-owned residential solar facilities to be exempt from property tax. SB09-51 brought third party residential solar to Colorado and this bill puts these systems on an even playing field with homeowner owned systems in terms of property taxation.
Creates a statewide district called the New Energy Improvement District for the purposes of promoting and financing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. A county must opt-into the District before its residents can participate in the program. This bill attempts to provide scalability with a statewide program that cannot as easily be achieved with a county-by-county approach.
Allows fractionally owned solar farms within Investor Owned Utility service territory. This allows renters, homeowners without solar access and business alike to own a portion of a solar farm. The legislation also directs the Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules under which this program will be managed. A ‘Solar Garden’ is 2 Megawatts capacity or smaller, owned by 10 or more customers, and located in the same county that the co-owners reside.
Establishes a goal for State Parks that by 2020 as much electricity is produced from renewable energy sources as the agency consumes on an annual basis. It directs the GEO to perform a GIS analysis to identify the optimum state parks and technologies to develop to achieve this goal. The bill allows Investor Owned Utilities, at their discretion, to waive the 120% net metering cap for purposes of achieving this goal. Provides the ability for State Parks to create a renewable energy land leasing program. Finally, it directs the PUC to consider utility projects that are built for the purpose of achieving this goal as new energy technologies for advanced cost recovery.
The Clean Air Clean Jobs Act requires Investor Owned Utilities to replace, retrofit or retire coal-fired electric generating units with lower emitting resources like natural gas. This will allow Colorado to use its own resources to generate cleaner power and will create thousands of new jobs for Coloradans. The replacement of 900 MW of coal-fired power plants better positions Colorado to address looming federal air quality regulations. For more details check out our white paper on the topic by clicking here.
2010 Senate Legislation
Specifies that new small or low-impact hydroelectric energy facilities must be valued for property taxes where the value is based on the projected gross revenue of the facility. This measure will help small hydro development by lowering the upfront cost of installing a new plant.
Counties are currently authorized to create a special district for PACE financing under HB08-1350. This bill allows for those counties who have created a special district and received voter approval to join together in one larger PACE district. It also allows for multi-jurisdictional bonding authority, which means that smaller counties such as Gunnison could enter a joint bond transaction with a larger county like Boulder. This will be helpful for smaller counties who may not otherwise be able to access the bond market.
Indicates that geothermal development can be designated a state interest, outlines the parameters for senior right holders to claim injury, addresses split estate agreements, sets up a leasing fund to use the revenue from federal leases to provide grants, defines ground water ownership in non-tributary situations and allows the PUC to give fullest consideration to the implementation of geothermal energy generation as a new energy technology.
Creates an 11 member task force to gather information and report to the general assembly and the Colorado PUC on issues related to the implementation of a smart energy grid in Colorado.
Authorizes the issuance of an aggregated lease-purchase agreement to finance capital construction projects that improve the energy efficiency and reduce costs of state buildings or facilities. Annual lease payments would be paid through the utility cost savings.
Incentivizes biomass energy development by: specifying how new biomass energy facilities must be valued for property taxes; providing a property tax and specific ownership tax exemption for equipment used in forestry operations beginning in 2013; specifying that biomass facilities qualify as “new clean energy and energy-efficient technologies” when the PUC is considering energy generation acquisitions by electric utilities; and making changes to the renewable energy credit system used by utilities to comply with Colorado’s renewable portfolio standard.