Colorado Legislature Passes 30 Energy Bills, Investing in the State’s Climate Roadmap

Source: RL Martin

The Colorado legislature recently wrapped up a historic 2021 session, passing over 30 energy bills covering climate action, clean buildings, renewable energy, transportation electrification, and a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The set of bills advance the implementation of state’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, released by the Colorado Energy Office in January 2021.

The Roadmap examines each key sector in the state, and provides strategies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution below 2005 levels by 2030, and a 90 percent reduction by 2050. The roadmap then examines specific sectors to develop emission reduction strategies for electricity generation, oil and gas development, transportation, industry, and buildings.

The final package of energy bills advances these climate strategies, with a focus on environmental justice. Overall, the bills will invest around three quarters of a billion dollars in public EV infrastructure and fleet incentives, creates new requirements for beneficial electrification for electric utilities, and creates binding GHG pollution reduction requirements for gas utilities, the oil and gas industry, electric utilities and the oil and gas industry. Finally, the bills establish new environmental justice positions and offices in the Department of Public Health and Environmental, the Department of Transportation, and requires the PUC and Utility Consumer Advocate start to undertake environmental justice obligations to ensure investment in low-income and underserved communities.

For a full list of the 30 bills, please see this link.

The bills created new incentives for energy efficiency in buildings, support for electrification efforts that install efficient heating systems, new performance standards for commercial buildings, expands the state’s Green Bank, and increases funding for low income energy efficiency. Finally, the bills created that nation’s first “clean heat standard” to regulate gas utilities GHG emissions through the state PUC.

The package of bills creates several new funding streams through fees on transportation services and overnight delivery, in order to fund nearly $750 million of investment in electric vehicle charging, hydrogen fueling, and public transit infrastructure. Additionally, new incentives are created to help Coloradans purchase electric vehicle or E-bikes, and to help fleets convert to EVs. Finally, it elevates climate pollution as a key element of transportation planning, with pollution budgets to be instituted through the state Transportation Commission.

The package of bills imposes regulatory backstops to ensure that electric utilities complete their planned 80% GHG reductions by 2030. The bills also sets emission reduction targets for the oil and gas sector (60% reductions by 2030) and industrial energy users (20% by 2030), giving the Air Quality Control Commission power to enforce these goals.