On Tuesday evening the General Assembly finally adjourned Sine Die for 2021. This was a strange year to say the least and in particular compared to the legislative scenarios we faced in the spring of 2020. Due to the pandemic, we were in the midst of shutting down our economy and the legislature took an almost two-month break. When they returned we faced a $4 billion cut in the state budget and a slew of pro-cleantech policy bills died due to the dire budget projections. During that time we went all in with our innovation coalition partners to save the Advanced Industries grant program. This year we got an additional $10 million for the program in addition to a robust amount through the regular funding streams.
It is amazing how much difference a year can make. It turns out Colorado’s economy performed much better in the second half of 2020 so we had a surplus of approximately $700 million. Additionally, Congress passed a series of stimulus bills that inject funding through a variety of mechanisms though state and local governments. Overall, it was a very good session for the cleantech business community. Listed below are the key pieces of legislation we supported this year and a link to bill information. As always, it is a honor and a privilege to represent the members of CCIA at the state legislature once again.
HB 21-1052 – Add Pumped Hydro to the Definition of Renewable Energy – Adds pumped hydro projects to be counted as “renewable energy” for the purposes of state Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance as long as the project is GHG neutral and protects streamflow and wildlife. Signed into law
HB 21-1149 – Energy Sector Career Pathways for Higher Ed. – Formalizes a process through the Dept. of Labor & Employment to get more students careers in the energy sector. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1180 – Biomass Market Study – Requires the State Forest Service and CSU to perform a study to help create and develop biomass markets. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 1253 – Local Gov. RE Project Grant Program – Part of a package of state stimulus bills that gives $5 million to local governments to develop clean energy projects & infrastructure. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1284 – Cap Solar Permit Fees – Limits the amount a local government can apply for permitting fees to $500 and $1000 for residential and small commercial solar projects. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1286 – Benchmarking for Buildings – Big policy bill to require commercial buildings to report on their energy usage and to start to reduce that footprint over time. Also requires compliance with the latest building code standards. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1288 – Start-up Loan Fund – Another state stimulus bill that provides $30 million for a business startup loan program housed at OEDIT. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1290 – Funding for Just Transition – Another state stimulus bill that provides $15 million to help with workforce and economic transitions in communities impacted by coal mine and plant closures. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1303 – Global Warming Potential for State Construction Projects – Requires the use of sustainable materials for public projects including buildings and transportation infrastructure. Expected to be signed into law.
HB 21-1324 – Innovative Projects for Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) – Allows IOUs to build innovative projects in areas of the state impacted by fossil fuel plant closures similar to their reimbursement for other types of infrastructure and generation assets. Expected to be signed into law.
SB 21-020 – Solar & Storage Property Tax Equalization – Requires the state to treat all sizes of solar projects and storage the same throughout the state for the purposes of property tax assessments. Signed into law.
SB 21-072 – RTO Public Utilities – Requires the PUC to move forward with Colorado joining a regional transmission organization. Expected to be signed into law.
SB 21-204 – Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Grant Funding – Another state stimulus bill that provides $5 million to the existing REDI program for companies that move, expand or invest in rural Colorado. Expected to be signed into law.
SB 21-230 – Colorado Energy Office (CEO) Stimulus – Another state stimulus bill that provides $40 million to CEO including $30 million to fund for the first time the Colorado Clean Energy Fund, and additional funding for EV charging infrastructure and the Commercial PACE program. Expected to be signed into law.
SB 21-246 – Beneficial Electrification for the Built Environment – Creates a series of incentives and requirements to move forward with low GHG technologies in buildings. Expected to be signed into law.
SB 21-264 - GHG- Reductions for Natural Gas Utilities - Provides incentives and goals for natural gas utilities to reduce their GHG footprint with specific reduction targets. Expected to be signed into law.