Bill could help lower energy bills and ensure Colorado leads on climate action

(Feb. 11) – The House Energy and Environment committee gave approval to Rep. Chris Hansen and Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo’s bill to help lower the cost of energy bills and transition toward renewable energy today. As a result of market forces, Colorado workers and communities are being negatively affected by the closure of aging power plants.

“We have a moral imperative to act on climate and ensure our state transitions to renewable energy sources in a responsible manner. This bill will help lower energy costs for consumers, invest in low-cost renewable energy, and provide direct assistance to communities impacted by the retirement of a fading power plant,” said Rep. Hansen, D-Denver.

The Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act would offer job training and financial support to communities impacted by the decommissioning of power plants.

“Coloradans are currently on the hook for the outstanding debt on aging power plants. This legislation would allow the state to refinance that debt at a much lower interest rate by authorizing ratepayer-backed bonds. The bill will help hardworking families save money on their energy bills and ensure a soft landing for when an aging power plant inevitably shuts down because of market forces,” Rep. Hansen added.

The bill would have no impact on the state budget. As utilities retire facilities, workers and communities where the plants are located can face economic challenges, and this bill creates a means of mitigating those challenges. HB19-1037 creates the opportunity for Colorado to take advantage of low-cost ratepayer-backed bonds. Bonds can be used if an electric-generating facility is being closed. From a portion of bond proceeds, the bill also creates and funds the Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Authority, which acts to mitigate impacts of plant closures on affected Colorado workers and communities.

Twenty-one other states have laws in place allowing ratepayer-backed bonds to be used but this would be the first time in U.S. history that savings from the bonds would help workers and communities transition and cost tax-payers zero dollars in the process.

HB19-1037 was approved by a vote of 7-4. The bill now goes to the House floor.

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