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May 11, 2023

SIGNED! Bills to Fight Climate Change, Create Pathways for Thermal Energy Technology

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills to propel Colorado’s clean energy transition forward and better combat climate change.

“This bold law sets us on a strong pathway forward to cleaner air, reducing our carbon footprint  and creating a healthier Colorado we can all enjoy,” said Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, sponsor of SB23-016. “We’re creating interim targets to help our state reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of clean energy alternatives to power our homes and businesses. Coloradans are counting on us to do the work to reach our state’s climate goals, and this law streamlines our tactics for a cleaner future.” 

“As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, it is obvious we must implement bold policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts on our climate and our environment,” said Sen. Chris Hansen, sponsor of SB23-016 and HB23-1252. “Coloradans are demanding action. With these new laws, we are tackling this challenge head on by reducing emissions through innovative technology and setting reasonable and achievable goals. I’m proud of our work that puts our state on a path to climate sustainability for generations to come.”

“We’re committed to creating a healthier Colorado for the generations to come, and that begins with supercharging our transition to clean energy,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver, sponsor of SB23-016. “This law sets crucial greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals to improve the air we breathe across the state, and ensures our electrical grid is running smoothly. Reaching our climate goals requires dedication and coordination across sectors, and we’re establishing new standards that prioritize clean energy now and into the future.” 

SB23-016 updates Colorado’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to match the latest climate science by adding interim targets, including a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2005 levels by 2035, and a new goal of 100 percent emissions reduction by 2050.

To help reach these targets, this law requires the Public Utilities Commission and local governments to consider and prioritize upgrades and additions to the state’s electrical transmission infrastructure system, and conduct a study on transmission capacity to pave the way for electrification across the state. Local permitting for projects to renovate, rebuild, or recondition transmission lines would be expedited, and the construction would be subject to the state’s labor standards.

To further expedite electrification, the bill would incentivize the retirement of a major local ozone contributor: gas-powered lawn equipment. SB23-016 creates an income tax credit worth 30 percent of the purchase price of electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers, and snow blowers, which is provided to purchasers as a discount, and encourages climate-aware financial investing by requiring large insurance companies to complete a climate risk disclosure survey annually. Finally, the law would expand the definitions of “pollution control equipment” and “clean heat resource” to include currently underutilized wastewater thermal energy, and enable Colorado to lead in carbon sequestration by allowing the state to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for Class VI injection well primacy.

“Thermal energy heating and cooling systems are already being used across Colorado, and this law makes it easier for businesses and homeowners to take advantage of this cost-saving technology,” said Rep. Sheila Lieder, D-Littleton, sponsor of HB23-1252. “Expanding reliable thermal energy creates good-paying jobs, saves Coloradans money on their energy bills and works to improve our air quality along the Front Range.” 

“Adopting new clean energy technologies like thermal energy will help create jobs while lowering overall emissions,” said Sen. Tony Exum Sr., sponsor of HB23-1252. “Natural gas is driving up utility costs and putting a squeeze on Coloradans' budgets. With this new law, we are continuing to move away from polluting energy sources and instead adopt cleaner technology to move Colorado’s economy and climate goals forward.”

“By using the heat beneath our feet, we can cut back Colorado’s reliance on fossil fuels,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, sponsor of HB23-1252. “Together, we’re expanding avenues for thermal energy technologies in homes and businesses across the state, which will save Coloradans’ money and bring us closer to our climate goals. We are working hard to attract and adopt clean energy technology that sets us on a path forward toward cleaner, healthier air.”

Including Thermal Energy As A Clean Heat Resource: HB23-1252 continues Colorado’s work to reduce emissions from gas utilities by providing a pathway for wider adoption of thermal energy as a clean heat resource. This law aids in the transition away from expensive fuel commodities like natural gas and lowers utility costs for Coloradans.

Thermal energy systems heat and cool buildings by circulating non-combustible fluids through a pipe network. Defining thermal energy as a clean heat resource allows the state to expand its usage, create new job opportunities, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and save Coloradans money on their utility bills.

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