DENVER, CO — The House today passed Representative Daneya Esgar’s bill to increase and improve protections for energy consumers by a vote of 55-12. The bill includes specific protections for low-income Coloradans and those who have an increased electricity use due to a medical condition.
“Far too many Coloradans are feeling the economic strain of this pandemic and even struggling to keep the lights on,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “This bill will go a long way towards guaranteeing protections for low-income Coloradans who may face having their power disconnected. It will also provide more support to those who use a considerable amount of power due to a health condition. This bill is the result of years of work and advocacy in Southern Colorado, and I’m proud to see it swiftly pass the House.”
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.