The Denver Gazette


Pat Poblete


Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday signed into law a slate of clean energy and water bills at a pair of ceremonies in Denver.

The governor kicked off those two events at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where he signed five bills on energy and climate change.

“One [bill] is not enough, two [bills] is not enough,” Polis said at the All American Selection Gardens. “[The package] really shows that Colorado leadership can be an example to the nation and the world and we’re really excited about the way the legislature came together.”

Among the bills Polis signed at the event were:

  • House Bill 1286 from Reps. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins and Alex Valdez, D-Denver, and Sens. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood requiring the state Energy Office to implement a building performance program with a number of provisions aimed at benchmarking energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. The bill also creates a task force that will, among other things, provide recommendations to the Air Quality Control Commission and the governor on standards that would reduce emissions by 20% by 2030 compared to 2021 levels and require the AQCC to promulgate rules by May 1, 2023, to achieve emissions targets;
  • House Bill 1284 from Valdez, Priola, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, and Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, which is designed to limit fees assessed to solar energy installations;
  • Senate Bill 264 from Hansen, Valdez and Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont, requiring gas distribution utilities to file clean heat plans with the Public Utilities Commission demonstrating how they will meet a 6 percent reduction in emissions by 2025 based on 2015 greenhouse gas emissions;
  • House Bill 1238 from Hansen and Bernett, which updates the methods used to determine cost-effectiveness of gas utilities’ demand-side management programs. The bill requires the PUC to consider avoided costs to ratepayers stemming from the reduced natural gas consumption when evaluating the cost effectiveness of those programs and makes a handful of changes to current demand-side management program requirements; and
  • Senate Bill 72 from Hansen, Valdez, and Montrose Republicans Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Mark Catlin, which seeks to modernize electric transmission infrastructure by moving toward an interconnected power grid. The bill also creates the Colorado Electric Transmission Authority, a panel that will be charged with picking a transmission operator to finance, plan, acquire, maintain and operate electric transmission infrastructure and storage facilities and includes a requirement that transmission utilities join a wholesale market by 2030.

The SB 72 signing also gave Polis an opportunity to take a shot at policymakers in Texas, a state he said “threatened grid reliability and increased costs to consumers by isolating their grid and relying too much on natural gas.”

“There’s a saying from our friends in Texas for someone who sometimes tries too hard to act the part, it goes something like: ‘All hat, no cattle,’” the governor said. “I think we learned from the last winter, the electric grid that tries too hard to not be interconnected and to be independent is left without electricity, let alone the cattle.”

Following that event, Polis took a short jaunt north from the Cheeseman Park neighborhood to LoDo, where he put pen to paper on a pair of water measures at Confluence Park on the banks of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.

Those included House Bill 1260, a stimulus measure that puts $20 million toward the Colorado Water Plan, and House Bill 1242, which creates the Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office to respond to climate change and severe droughts.