State legislative session ends

The 72nd Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die in early May. Several pieces of legislation were of special interest to IREA and its customers:

• House Bill 19-1261, sponsored by House Speaker KC Becker (D-District 13) and Representative Dominique Jackson (D-District 42) and state Senators Faith Winter (D-District 24) and Angela Williams (D-District 33), establishes statewide carbon emission reductions goals and tasks the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) with rulemaking authority to determine how those goals should be met and enforced. While IREA does not oppose setting goals for decreased carbon emissions, we have concerns about the timeline contemplated by this bill and were even more concerned that an appointed board of government bureaucrats would be charged with directing and enforcing these efforts that will affect all facets of the state’s economy from energy to agriculture and automobiles to public transportation. In fact, most of Colorado’s business community had concerns about this bill, but it passed nonetheless and is awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.

• Senate Bill 19-188, sponsored by Sens. Winter and Williams and Representatives Matt Gray (D-District 33) and Monica Duran (D-District 24), would have required employees and employers to pay a fee to the state allowing it to administer government-sponsored expanded family medical leave for employees. Again, Colorado’s business community, including IREA, opposed the bill because it did not account for companies that already provide family leave to its employees, the costs to both employees and employers would be far too high and the overall cost was nearly a billion dollars. The bill also would have imposed what was called a “fee” on every paycheck in Colorado to fund its prescribed benefit plan. In this case, the opposition convinced bill sponsors to instead commission a study this summer to look at the issue in greater deal and try to find more collaborative solutions before the next legislative session.

• House Bill 19-1313, sponsored by Speaker Becker and Rep. Chris Hansen (D-District 6) and Sens. Winter and Kevin Priola (R-District 25), proposed to give investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy the ability to avoid AQCC regulation, gain further market control and get full cost recovery for both shutting down generation resources and building new generation and transmission. IREA opposed this bill, and it ultimately died before it made it through the legislative process, but the entire language of the bill was grafted into another bill, Senate Bill19-236, as an amendment and passed as part of that bill.

• Senate Bill 19-236, sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-District 3) and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg (D-District 18) and Speaker Becker and Rep. Hansen, was a standard sunset review bill allowing the legislature to review the necessity of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and approve additional funding for that state agency in the future. The bill was amended, however, in several significant ways. Language from two other bills, including House Bill 19-1313 mentioned above, was added to this bill in the form of amendments. IREA successfully pushed for an amendment to this bill requiring the PUC to investigate the costs and benefits of joining a regional transmission organization (RTO), electricity imbalance market, power pool or joint tariff. Our belief is that participation by Colorado electric utilities in an RTO will benefit our customers by reducing the cost of transmission and facilitating more large-scale integration of renewable energy resources. The successful introduction of this amendment, which received bipartisan support, was a proud accomplishment by IREA’s Public Affairs team on behalf of our members.

Though the General Assembly will not reconvene until January, we work year-round to represent the interests of IREA customers. You can stay updated on these efforts by signing up for legislative alerts. Select Contact Us at the top of this page, then submit an inquiry using the contact form and subject “Legislative Alert Sign Up.”