DENVER, CO — The House Energy and Environment Committee today passed Representative Daneya Esgar’s bill to increase and improve protections for energy consumers, with specific protections for Coloradans who have an increased electricity use due to a medical condition. The bill was approved by a vote of 7-3.
“As so many Coloradans struggle to deal with the economic devastation of COVID19, it’s more important than ever to ensure we have strong and efficient consumer protections,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “This bill stands up for low-income Coloradans who may face being disconnected due to lack of payment and provides protections for those who are eligible for energy assistance due to medical conditions. As we take steps to responsibly get our state back to work and back on track, I’ll continue to make sure consumer protections and health and safety are among my top priorities.”
SB20-030 imposes various requirements on public utilities and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) related to information reporting, billing, and customer interactions. Specifically, the bill would require utilities under the PUC’s authority to report data related to customers who receive the medical exemption from tiered electricity rates, including information related to efforts the utilities have undertaken to enroll qualified individuals into the medical exemption program. SB20-030 also nearly doubles the level of income that the PUC may use to means test the medical exemption, allowing more Coloradans with medical needs to take advantage of the program.
Among several other protections, SB20-030 includes a provision that directs the PUC to standardize practices for electric and gas utilities to use when disconnecting service due to nonpayment. This process must include providing the consumer with information regarding energy-assistance programs, prohibiting disconnection during extreme weather periods, allowing customers the opportunity to have their service reconnected on the same day, among other protections. Finally, SB20-030 puts in place guardrails to ensure that the PUC does not approve rate change mechanisms that disproportionately impact low-income residential communities, deeming these changes to be contrary to the public interest.