Today, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 13-252 into law – landmark legislation that will boost Colorado’s rural renewable energy standard and create clean energy jobs. Senate President John Morse (D-Colo. Springs) and Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) carried the bill in the Senate, and Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) and Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) carried it in the House of Representatives. Both Pres. Morse and Sen. Schwartz heralded the bill’s signing as twin triumphs for Colorado’s economy and environment.
“For society to move forward, its people must look forward, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with Senate Bill 252. It set modest, attainable goals for large cooperatives to increase their renewable energy percentages over time, and in turn Coloradans will reap significant benefits,” said Pres. Morse. “This bill will help stabilize the cost of electricity in the long run, create jobs and economic activity, and limit greenhouse gas emissions. These are all good things, and I am incredibly pleased to know we have taken another step toward national leadership in the clean energy field.”
“I know rural Colorado offers tremendous potential for increased renewable energy production and new jobs as a result of SB 252,” said Sen. Schwartz. “We have significant underdeveloped renewable resources in wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro, and now coal bed methane, that can be harnessed to generate affordable electricity in rural areas. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is currently escaping into the atmosphere from coal mines, will now create electricity and help us address the destructive impacts of climate change. Colorado’s commitment to expanding renewable energy will benefit our state long term with stable electricity rates for homes and businesses.”
SB 13-252 is now the third Colorado General Assembly bill that expanded renewable energy standards. State voters adopted Amendment 37 in 2004, setting a 10 percent standard for investor-owned utilities by 2015. House Bill 07-1281 increased the standard to 20 percent by 2020, while HB 10-1001 increased it to 30 percent by 2020. The newest bill updates state law in the following ways:
- Increases the renewable energy standard for cooperative electric associations (CEAs) serving more than 100,000 meters from its current 10 percent by 2020 to 20 percent with the same deadline.
- Provides extra credit to utilities for new renewable resources acquired through 2015, adding incentive for faster action.
- Allows both methane capture and pyrolysis of solid waste to count toward the renewable energy standard, as long as the production is greenhouse gas-neutral.
- Ensures that no utility bill will increase by more than 2 percent as a result of the bill, by imposing a statutory cost cap. Utilities would be granted reduced renewable obligations if they cannot meet the standard without rate increases larger than 2 percent.
- Requires CEAs serving less than 100,000 meters to get 1 percent of total electric sales from distributed generation, or producing energy in facilities located near the end users. CEAs serving less than 10,000 meters are required to get ¾ of 1 percent from distributed generation.