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Energy + Climate Change Law Alert – New Climate Action Plan Released

Colorado Governor Issues Roadmap to 100% Renewable Energy

At a May 30 signing ceremony for many of the groundbreaking energy and climate change-related bills passed in the 2019 legislative session, Colorado Governor Polis released his “Roadmap to 100% Renewable Energy by 2040 and Bold Climate Action.”  The Roadmap highlights early action taken in 2019 and outlines the following seven principal strategies to help realize the Governor’s campaign promise:

Modernize the Public Utilities Commission.  The PUC will start considering the social cost of carbon in decision-making processes, oversee the resource planning efforts of Tri-State Generation for the first time, and consider a plan from Xcel Energy to achieve 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 (per SB19-236).  The Roadmap also calls for consideration of joining a regional electric grid with other western states and exploration of opportunities—such as performance-based ratemaking—to better align utility activities with public goals.

Grow Green Jobs and Save Consumers Money.  The Roadmap recognizes recent bills (HB19-1003, SB19-236, and HB19-1272) that expand access to, and financing for, onsite and community solar and calls for expanding consumer access to distributed renewable energy generation and storage.  It also recognizes the need to expand innovative financing mechanisms, including Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing and a green bank through the Colorado Clean Energy Fund.‚Äč

Promote Energy Efficiency.  The Roadmap calls for improved efficiency codes, expanded low-income weatherization services, and support for grid infrastructure upgrades to improve system efficiency.  This element builds on HB19-1231, which adopts new appliance standards in Colorado.

More Zero Emission Vehicles and Commuting Options.  Several bills promoting vehicle electrification were passed in 2019, including:

  • SB19-077, which allows utility investment in charging infrastructure;
  • HB19-1159, which expands tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs);
  • HB19-1198, which increases the flexibility of the EV Grant Fund; and
  • SB19-239, which calls for a stakeholder process to accelerate the electrification of vehicle fleets

The Roadmap also calls for additional incentives for commercial fleets to switch to EVs, expanded charging infrastructure throughout the state, and consideration of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Ensure a Just and Equitable Transition for All of Colorado.  In addition to recognizing HB19-1314, which calls for a just transition away from coal-fired electricity, and SB19-236, which requires consideration of workforce transitions when utilities retire facilities, the Roadmap requests consideration of additional financing mechanisms to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel-based energy in a way that supports affected workers and communities, while continuing to support impacted communities through the Department of Local Affairs’ Rural Economic Development Initiative.

Support Local Commitment to 100% Renewable Energy.  The Roadmap identifies the 14 cities, towns, and counties in Colorado who have committed to 100% renewable energy targets and calls for the development of programs and strategies to support local energy goals and investment in rural electric vehicle infrastructure and renewable energy.

Move Towards Zero Emissions Buildings.  The Roadmap recognizes the need to develop a blueprint for building electrification and work with stakeholders to thoughtfully design the next generation of buildings in Colorado.  This element builds on HB19-1260, which requires local jurisdictions to adopt updated energy standards when amending their building codes.

These actions will also compliment the requirements of HB19-1261—also signed by the Governor on May 30—and puts pollution reduction goals into statute to reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas pollution by 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 of 2005 levels.  That law will be implemented by Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, following an extensive stakeholder process throughout the rulemaking period.

For a summary of the bills referenced above and other key energy and climate legislation passed in 2019, please see our 2019 Year in Review.

For more information about Colorado's energy transition or other energy and climate change related issues, please contact Sarah Keane, Tom Bloomfield, or Bob Randall.

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell publishes Energy + Climate Law Alerts to announce late-breaking developments in legislation, regulation, and policy for our clients and colleagues.  Nothing in our Alerts is intended as legal advice, and readers are reminded to contact legal counsel for legal advice on the matters that appear in our Alerts.