DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed several bills into law that will save consumers money on utility bills, create jobs, increase energy efficiency and help meet Colorado’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals.
“The benchmarking law Governor Polis signed today will save individuals, families and small businesses money on their utility bills and help Colorado meet our climate goals by increasing the efficiency of large buildings and reducing the consumption of fossil fuels,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “In the process, we’ll create good jobs for workers skilled in energy retrofits, mechanical system upgrades, electrical work and engineering.”
HB21-1286, which is sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Alex Valdez, requires the owners of certain large commercial buildings to collect and report their energy use to the Colorado Energy Office, and by 2026, to demonstrate that they have met new energy efficiency performance standards. The proposal, known as benchmarking, asks building owners to measure their energy use in the first year and then continue to monitor and report their performance and meet new energy efficiency standards. The law helps tenants and businesses save money on their energy costs while creating jobs.
In the next eight years, the law is expected to save consumers $447 million on their energy bills, 3,200 gigawatt-hours of electricity, 7,700 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and reduce CO2 emissions by 1 million metric tons. More than one-third of Colorado buildings are already benchmarking, demonstrating that this policy is both widely popular and achievable. Large commercial, multifamily, and public buildings account for roughly 15 percent of all energy used in Colorado, which means that there is considerable opportunity to reduce energy used by increasing the efficiency of these buildings.
“With the bills Governor Polis signed today, Colorado is taking a nation leading approach to measuring and using the social cost of carbon dioxide and methane to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont. “I’m excited to see our state take this important step forward, which will save consumers money, help us use less fossil fuels and reduce emissions that cause climate change and poor air quality.”
HB21-1238, sponsored by Representative Bernett, directs the PUC to establish energy savings targets for natural gas utilities, promoting the adoption of more energy efficient programs as well as clean heat technologies to help the state meet its GHG reduction goals. The law modernizes the standards for demand-side-management (DSM) programs for natural gas utilities by helping utilities more effectively manage the energy consumption of their customers. One of the calculations the PUC will use in evaluating these programs is to count the avoided costs to ratepayers resulting from the reduced consumption of natural gas, also known as the social cost of carbon dioxide and methane. The law also encourages the adoption of new technologies, requires investment in weatherization programs for low-income customers and promotes the use of onsite renewables for everyday uses, like heat pumps.
As one step toward meeting our climate goals, SB21-264 seeks to cost effectively meet emissions reduction goals through a Clean Heat Standard, encouraging innovative emission reductions technologies and capturing and utilizing methane that is currently leaking from agricultural operations, landfills, wastewater plants, and coalbeds, and simultaneously reducing the amount of methane leaking into our atmosphere and offsetting the need for additional fossil fuel extraction.