United States: Colorado Energy And Utilities Legislation

Winners and Losers in the 2018 Colorado General Assembly –

The warm weather has returned, spring sports are in full swing, and the Colorado General Assembly has adjourned for 2018. That means it's time to take a look at the scorecard and review the energy and utilities related issues that won and lost this legislative season.

Both houses considered similar numbers of energy and utility related legislation, however, of the relevant bills introduced in the House only approximately 20% passed as compared to approximately 1/3 of the Senate bills passing or still having a chance of becoming law.

Legislation considered this year include some perennial contenders (renewable energy, energy storage, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change) as well as some relatively new topics that may be expected to return in the future (electric and alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure). Overall, energy and utility related legislation was not a major, let alone controversial, focus of the Colorado legislative session this year as topics such as transportation funding, beer sales, and the public employees retirement program occupied much of the legislators' attention.

Noteworthy winners this session included:
– HB18-1270 – directing the Colorado Public Utilities Commission ("PUC") to establish mechanisms for investor-owned electric utilities ("IOUs") to integrate energy storage considerations into their resource planning processes and to procure storage resources. (Passed by both houses.)
– HB18-1271 – streamlining the process and circumstances under which IOUs may offer economic development rates for retail electric service. (Passed by both houses.)
– SB18-003 – preserving the Colorado Energy Office but making substantial changes to the programs it administers. (Awaiting the Governor's signature.)
– SB-009 – confirming that electricity consumers have a right to interconnect energy storage systems on their property and directing the PUC to adopt rules to facilitate the installation and use of such systems. (Governor signed.)
– SB18-134 – deregulating nonprofit water companies but retaining PUC jurisdiction to hear complaints concerning rates charged by such companies. (Governor signed.)
– SB18-167 – revising Colorado's "811" program concerning notice and marking of underground utility facilities. (Passed by both houses.)

Bills that failed to advance to the legislative championships included:
– HB18-1071 – intended to codify a Colorado Court of Appeals decision concerning the development of oil and gas resources consistent with the protection of public health, safety, welfare, and environmental and wildlife resources.
– HB18-1085 – requiring the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to research the health effects of industrial wind turbines.
– HB18-1107 – requiring builders of new residences to offer buyers the option to prewire their homes for electric vehicle charging systems.
– HB18-1274 – requiring a reduction by 2050 in statewide greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions by at least 80% as compared to 2005 emission levels.
– HB18-1281 – requiring the PUC to establish rules concerning standards of conduct and conflicts of interest, prohibiting former officers and directors of regulated entities from serving as a PUC commissioner within four years of such employment, and barring sitting commissioners from holding a financial interest in a regulated entity.
– HB18-1297 – requiring a reduction by 2025 in statewide GHG emissions by 26% as compared to 2005 emission levels, and reductions in GHG emissions from the electric utility sector of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
– HB18-1345 – providing incumbent electric utilities a right of first refusal to construct new electric transmission lines that have been approved through a federal regional transmission planning process.
– HB18-1382 – creating an energy legislation review committee to study various energy supply, transmission, and security issues in Colorado.
– HB18-1428 – authorizing IOUs to enter into collaborative agreements with eligible communities concerning the community's energy goals and the energy supplied to the community.
– SB18-048 – expanding local governments' land use authority with respect to the siting of oil and gas facilities.
– SB18-063 – increasing the financial assurance and reclamation requirements applicable to operators of oil and gas facilities.
– SB18-064 – establishing a requirement that Colorado's qualifying retail utilities, including investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative electric utilities supply 100% of their retail electricity sales from eligible energy resources by 2035, and restricting the use of renewable energy credits to meet such requirement.
– SB18-216 – allowing public utilities to implement electric and other alternative fuel motor vehicle infrastructure programs.
– SB18-226 – prohibiting the state of Colorado from participating in state-level collaborative efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or otherwise promote the goals of the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
– SB18-246 – repealing aspects of Colorado's Renewable energy standards and revising the types of electric generation that qualifies as eligible energy resources.

As with sports, just as one season comes to a close, thoughts turn to the next season and the Colorado legislature is no different. With the close of the General Assembly's efforts for 2018, attention is already turning to the November, 2018 elections and the 2019 legislative session. Current Governor John Hickenlooper is term-limited and both houses of the General Assembly are considered to be in play this election cycle. Pundits are already predicting much more activity on energy and utilities issues next session.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Thomas J. Dougherty
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