March 2023
Utility bills are expected to decrease this spring, but Colorado leaders are still seeking ways to avoid the dramatic spikes of this winter in the future. In this month's issue, we let you know how you can share your experiences with a special legislative panel. We're also giving you a heads up that some of the funding from the Inflation Reduction Act is growing closer to becoming available, especially for those in disadvantaged and especially polluted communities. And rural Colorado utilities have until the end of the month to apply for special microgrid planning grants.
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

Colorado Legislature Creates Panel
To Investigate
Rising Utility Rates

Skyrocketing utility bills hit consumers especially hard this winter, adding more stress to family budgets. In Colorado, people complained to regulators that bills had doubled or more and they were being forced to choose between food and heat.

In response, the Colorado legislature created a special committee to investigate the root causes of increases in utility rates and to consider possible policy changes. They are inviting your thoughts.

Rising gas prices blamed on the war in Ukraine, coupled with a cold winter, are the main culprit. Xcel Energy, like other utilities, simply passes along wholesale increases and decreases and the utility promises that as wholesale gas prices have fallen, so will heating bills this spring. Some observers, however, think the utility should have some “skin in the game’’ of making better choices about fuel purchases - or buying more fuel-free resources such as solar and wind power.

The legislature is concerned about other structural reasons why bills have gone up so fast, and the committee plans to look deeper. Xcel Energy is granted a monopoly to serve, and given a guaranteed rate of profit. The utility made $660 million in after-tax net income from Colorado in 2021 and was granted several recent rate increases.  Most of the utility’s profit is tied to construction projects like new power plants, and some observers think a different model of incentive would make more sense- such as rewarding the utility for providing better service at a lower cost.

Another option would be to move away from the strict monopoly model by allowing communities to join together to buy some of their own power- a concept known as Community Choice Aggregation, which was pioneered in California and is now available in nine other states. Colorado authorized a study of the idea and regulators held a hearing last fall.

The Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates has six bipartisan members, chaired by Senate President Steve Fenberg,. They are interested in hearing how recent utility rate increases have impacted you. Please send comments to Your submissions will be made available to committee members to review.
Billions of Dollars are Coming
To Build Clean Energy Projects

Last summer’s massive federal climate initiative, the Inflation Reduction Act, is inching closer to making funds available to communities after officials collected thousands of comments and held many listening sessions.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Colorado March 6 to discuss the administration's climate progress and future plans.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the initial parameters of grant competitions that will award nearly $27 billion to leverage private capital for investments in clean energy and clean air across the nation through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

The funding is expected to help communities reduce pollution and lower fuel costs, funding projects to build solar energy and storage along with other clean energy.

EPA will hold two competitions to distribute grant funding under the Fund: a $20 billion General and Low-Income Assistance Competition and a $7 billion Zero-Emissions Technology Fund Competition. The competitions will be aligned with President Biden’s initiative to direct 40% of the benefits to disadvantaged communities.

An initial part of the giant program, Climate Pollution Reduction Grants will provide $5 billion for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions including planning grants for states, cities and tribes who must apply this spring. Next year, they can apply for a share of the funds to implement their projects.

Rural Areas Can Seek Funding for Microgrids

Municipal utilities and rural electric coops have until the end of March to apply for a special grant to boost rural community resilience through microgrids. 
Microgrids are made up of interconnected electric loads and distributed energy resources such as solar panels that can work as a single entity separate from the rest of the electric grid.
Thus, microgrids can help prevent problems caused by power outages especially in rural areas subject to climate- related weather problems. The grant program seeks to help communities keep the power on in important community centers such as rural hospitals, schools and emergency operations centers. The planning grants, made possible through a law passed last year, will be followed by implementation grants.
More information:

The 2023 Metro Denver Green Homes Tour is planned for 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
This year, we are looking to showcase homes throughout metro Denver. And remember, the homes can be modest dwellings 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
March 8 7pm BCRES
Grow Your business with Colorado C-PACE

March 23 7 pm JCRES
Why Green Isn't Black or White
Information here

March 28 5 pm NCRES
Options for Regulating Carbon Emissions
Information here
Three Stories We Think You'll Want to Read