February 2023
Frigid weather and soaring utility bills have made this a tough winter for many. Colorado residents have complained to regulators in record numbers about heating bills that have in many cases doubled from a year ago. While fuel prices are moderating, the outrage may herald a new era of stiffer utility regulation, and Governor Jared Polis has called for action.
Federal programs that promise to make energy efficiency upgrades more affordable are likely still months away, but tax credits are available now through last year's Inflation Reduction Act for many improvements, and so are some utility rebates.
Meanwhile, signs of progress are all around us - from a new climate action plan in Jefferson County to renewable energy commitments from Colorado's largest electric coop to proposals in the legislature.
Sunny regards,
Rebecca Cantwell 
for New Energy Colorado

p.s. Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues and let us know what else you would like to read about by emailing us here

Climate Action Plan Offers Many Ways for Individuals
To Take Meaningful Actions

Jefferson County is responding to the climate crisis with its first Climate Action Plan in the wake of heat, drought, wildfires and air pollution harming residents. The plan has a dual approach:
---Setting a goal of cutting 73% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 from 2015 levels while focusing on equity
--Building resilience and reducing climate risk for all people, giving priority to those experiencing the greatest disparities.

The recently adopted plan includes a variety of county-wide initiatives. The complete plan is available here: Climate Action Plan | Jefferson County, CO (jeffco.us). It includes myriad ways for individuals to take action that are meaningful for folks inside and outside the county. Individual actions and links for more information include:

Moving on from Coal,
CORE Bets on Renewables

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far Colorado’s clean energy movement has come in a few years. Colorado’s largest electric distribution cooperative- a utility supplying power to about 180,000 people along Colorado’s Front Range—provides a good example.
The coop, which used to be called IREA, was long known as especially hostile to renewable energy. In the early 2000s, members organized to push for change, but the coop leadership pushed back. In fact, despite an outpouring of protest, IREA imposed a special fee on solar homeowners that made it very difficult to justify installing rooftop solar in the area. Another citizen movement launched in 2018 worked to change IREA by running candidates for the coop board who favor renewable energy in the 2019 and 2021 board elections. The alternative candidates came close but were not successful.
But the changing attitudes and economics of energy have led to big changes at the utility, now called CORE Electric Cooperative. The utility dropped the punitive solar charges in the fall of 2021 in favor of peak demand charges for all residential customers which made rooftop solar much more attractive. Then the utility, which currently buys wholesale power from Xcel Energy, recently announced a wholesale power supply partnership with Invenergy starting in 2026 that will supply about 400 MW of solar and wind energy projects and 100 MW of battery storage. CORE says the partnership will help reduce carbon emissions by 80% in 2030 and create flexibility to implement additional storage and other technologies.

Read more here

Colorado Legislature Takes Up Variety of Energy Bills

The 2023 legislative session is in full swing and these are some of the bills introduced so far of particular interest to Solar CitiSuns. You can click on the bill to learn more, including upcoming hearings where you might want to testify:

 SB23-16 - Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures
§ Summary: The bill has many provisions for reducing emissions throughout the state’s economy including tax credits for electric lawn equipment. It updates the emission reduction goals to add a 65% reduction goal for 2035, an 80% reduction goal for 2040, and a 90% reduction goal for 2045.

SB23-092 - Agricultural producers use of agrivoltaics.
§ Summary: The bill supports  agrivoltaics, which is the integration of solar energy generation facilities with agricultural activities and authorizes the state to award grants for new or ongoing demonstration or research.

 HB23-1039 - Electric Resource Adequacy Reporting
§ Summary: The bill requires the filing of resource adequacy reports to the Colorado Energy Office every year starting in April 2024 by Load-Serving entities to ensure adequate energy is available.

HB23-1134 - Require electric options in home warranty.
§ Summary: The bill requires that every home warranty service contract that provides coverage for the replacement of any of certain gas-fueled appliances must include terms:
  • Allowing the homeowner to replace the gas-fueled appliance with a similar device of the homeowner's choosing that operates on electricity rather than gas;
  • Describing minimum efficiency and performance standards for each gas-fueled appliance and for electric replacements
Planning has started for the 2023 Metro Denver Green Homes Tour on October 7.

If you have a home to suggest or want to get involved in planning the tour, please reach out to Sheila Townsend at sheilactownsend@gmail.com.
This year, we are looking to showcase homes throughout metro Denver. And remember, the homes can be modest dwellings in modest neighborhoods where homeowners have taken big energy and water-saving strides.

You can tour some of the region's most sustainable homes at your leisure by taking our virtual tour any time.
Upcoming Events

February 8- 7 p.m. BCRES
Update on Global Climate Action with Hunter Lovins
Information here

February 16 -7 p.m. Metro Denver CRES
Going (Mostly) Car Free is Easier Than you Think
Information here

February 23 - 7 p.m. Jeffco CRES
Jeffco's Climate Action Plan
Information here

February 23-26
Colorado Environmental Film Festival- American Mountaineering Center
Information here

Solar Power & Energy Storage: Mountain West
Three Stories We Think You'll Want to Read