Legislature moves state closer to RTO

The 2021 state legislative session adjourned in early June, with significant policy changes that affect the energy industry.

For more than five years, IREA has advocated for a regional transmission organization (RTO), which would allow us to buy and sell power on an open market, provide affordable and reliable power, and responsibly increase the amount of renewable energy we deliver to our members. We greatly appreciate all IREA members who participated in our calls to action to advocate for Senate Bill 72 this year and are happy to announce that Governor Polis signed the bill in late June.

The bill, titled Public Utilities Commission Modernize Electric Transmission Infrastructure, requires transmission utilities join an organized wholesale market such as an RTO by 2030. An RTO is a non-profit, multi-state entity that manages the bulk power transmission system, ensures non-discriminatory access to the transmission grid, and plans regionally for generation and transmission assets. The bill also directs the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve applications for transmission facilities that will help Colorado meet its clean energy goals and creates the Colorado Electric Transmission Authority (CETA), which will deliver well-planned transmission facilities throughout the state, connecting us to many opportunities outside of Colorado for additional energy generation.

In the last week of session, a 25-page amendment was added to House Bill 1266, Concerning Efforts to Redress the Effects of Environmental Justice on Disproportionately Impacted Communities. The amendment language was distributed to affected stakeholders less than 24 hours prior to the committee hearing of the bill and less than 48 hours before the legislature adjourned.

In the waning days of the session – and without stakeholder input or meaningful legislative debate – proponents of H.B. 1266 crammed into the bill a significant portion of a separate bill the governor had previously committed to veto. The resulting legislation that was passed on the last day of session and eventually signed into law by the governor requires IREA to file a Clean Energy Plan with the state detailing how we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030, though as of the writing of this newsletter, IREA has limited control over our energy sources. If IREA does not meet this goal, we are subject to rule-makings and fines. IREA opposed both the substance of this amendment in giving a regulatory body control over our cooperative, as our membership voted years ago to remove itself from regulation by state bureaucratic agencies, and also the end-of-session tactics used to pass such sweeping policy changes that will have drastic effects without appropriate and thoughtful dialogue and consideration. IREA continues to pursue additional sources of renewable energy to serve our customers, but, as a not-for-profit cooperative, must do so in a financially responsible manner.

IREA’s government affairs team works with elected officials to implement policies that lead to reliable service and support lower electric rates. If you would like additional updates on these efforts, or communications regarding our calls to action, please sign up for our legislative alerts. Visit the Contact Us page and submit an inquiry using the contact form and subject “Legislative Alert Sign Up.”