Bill could help lower energy bills and ensure Colorado leads on climate action
(March 4) – The House gave approval today to Rep. Chris Hansen and Rep. Daneya Esgar’s bill to help lower the cost of energy bills, transition toward renewable energy, and support affected workers. 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, enable reinvestment in low-cost renewable energy, and provide direct assistance to workers and communities impacted by the retirement of aging power plants,” 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.
“This commonsense bill is a win-win for workers and ratepayers and provides significant resources for energy communities and the families who live in them like Pueblo,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “It’s important that workers in energy communities receive the job training they need to stay in good paying jobs and this bill does just that.”
The bill would have no impact on the state budget.
“Coloradans are currently on the hook for the outstanding debt on aging power plants. The bill will help hardworking families save money on their energy bills and ensure transition help for workers when an aging power plant inevitably shuts down because of market force,” Rep. Hansen continued. “This legislation would allow ratepayers to refinance that debt at a much lower interest rate by authorizing ratepayer-backed bonds.”
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 taxpayers zero dollars in the process.
HB19-1037 was approved by a vote of 40-23. It now heads to the Senate.