DENVER, CO — Governor Polis today signed three bills into law that will invest nearly $50 million to create jobs in the renewable energy sector and save consumers money on their utility bills. The new laws are part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus plan to help Colorado recover faster and build back stronger.
HB21-1253, sponsored by Representatives Meg Froelich and Matt Gray , invests $5 million in grants to local governments for job-creating projects in the renewable energy sector. The grants would be distributed by the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and are intended to be awarded by August 15, 2021. When awarding grants, DOLA will prioritize communities in which renewable and clean energy infrastructure is sparse and consider geographical diversity.
“This bill helps our local governments save money on energy as we meet Colorado’s climate goals,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “The bills Governor Polis signed today will help Colorado build back stronger, stimulate our economy and create jobs in communities across our state by constructing new renewable energy projects.”
“By providing local governments, especially in rural areas, additional resources to develop and construct renewable energy projects, we can create jobs, build renewable energy infrastructure and extend clean, reliable and efficient power to more communities across Colorado,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield.
SB21-231, sponsored by Representatives Mike Weissman and Edie Hooton, provides $3 million in additional funding to supplement the Colorado Energy Office’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which offers free weatherization support for Colorado’s low-income residents. WAP works to maximize energy cost savings for each client by providing them with cost-effective energy efficiency services for their homes, reducing wasted energy and lowering heating bill costs while improving the overall comfort and safety of a home year-round. Services include solutions like air sealing, furnace safety testing, LED light bulb retrofits and more. Under its current $20 million budget, the program only serves about 2,000 homes per year, although about 500,000 Colorado households could qualify.
“Colorado’s Weatherization Assistance Program helps thousands of lower-income households improve the energy efficiency of their homes each year,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “Weatherization saves consumers money, reduces energy use and creates jobs in the energy retrofit industry. The bill Governor Polis signed today will provide a $3 million boost to this program so that more Coloradans can access assistance to undertake energy efficiency projects that will lower their utility costs and save energy.”
“By fostering more energy efficient homes, we can create jobs, reduce our energy use, create healthier and more comfortable living spaces and protect our air and water from emissions that cause climate change,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder. “This funding will help Colorado recover faster by putting people to work on home energy efficiency projects and save consumers money on their utility bills.”
Sponsored by Representatives Alex Valdez and Tracey Bernett, SB21-230 invests $40 million in clean energy finance initiatives through the Colorado Energy Office. The majority of the funds will go to the Colorado Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), which uses the “green bank” model already in operation in over a dozen states to finance clean energy projects and bridge the gaps between businesses and private capital providers. By leveraging limited public funds, the CCEF can draw over $120 million of total investment and create over 2,000 jobs in Colorado communities most impacted by climate change. The remaining funds will be allocated to proven programs within the Colorado Energy Office that support clean energy retrofits, energy-efficient new construction, clean energy lending and funding for the installation of EV charging stations at facilities across the state.
“The $40 million we’re investing today will create thousands of jobs in Colorado and help our state meet our climate goals by constructing critical renewable energy projects in communities all across our state,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. “These funds will be leveraged to draw down significant private capital and bridge the gap between businesses and lenders to get major projects off the ground.”
“Green banks, like the one we’re supporting in Colorado, leverage their resources to draw down five to ten times as much in private capital to finance job-creating renewable energy projects that are better for our environment and power our communities,” said Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont. “I’m proud Governor Polis signed my legislation into law that will help Colorado consumers save money on clean energy retrofits, improve access to electric vehicle charging stations and generate more renewable energy.”