Between 2007 and 2011, 57 bills relating to clean energy were signed into law. Two new state laws are particularly important in reshaping the state’s electric power future. In March 2010 the governor signed HB10-1001, the renewable energy standard (RES). The act requires Colorado’s investor owned utilities reach a minimum of 30 percent renewable electricity by 2020. By some measures, Colorado’s new standard is the nation’s second highest, and is the highest in the Rocky Mountain West. The act also established a production requirement for distributed generation that will provide a major economic boost to Colorado’s solar industry.
In April 2010 the governor signed HB10-1365, the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, into law. The legislature passed the act in anticipation of federal Clean Air Act regulations that will require improved environmental performance in the electricity sector, particularly in Colorado’s northern Front Range, which is in noncompliance with ground-level ozone standards. The act requires a reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions of 70 percent to 80 percent by December 2017 from coal-fired generation plants operated by Colorado investor-owned utilities, principally PSCo. For PSCo, the act calls for retiring the lesser of 900 MW of coal-fired electric generating capacity, or 50 percent of the company’s coal-based capacity, in addition to those plants that PSCo was already planning to retire before January 1, 2015. The PUC held hearings and issued a final order that meets the provisions of the law.
Colorado is in the national spotlight for advancing the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act policy framework that will replace old and inefficient coal-fired generation with natural gas plants. Residents throughout the state will be direct beneficiaries of cleaner air, reduced water borne pollutants, energy cost containment, economic development, the stabilization of carbon emissions, and less disruptive compliance with increasingly stringent federal pollution standards.