Alternative-Energy Bill Heads to
Ritter; Plan Would Make It Easier to Transmit Solar,
Mar 5, 2007 - The Gazette
A key component of Gov. Bill Ritter's renewable-energy
agenda moved closer to approval Friday, with the House
voting to ease obstacles to building transmission
lines needed to bring wind and solar power to market.
SB100 passed by voice vote on second reading. It
already has passed the Senate and will head to Ritter's
desk if it's approved on final reading by the House.
"This proposal invests in Colorado's infrastructure
by connecting local communities to the grid to meet
our energy needs for the future," said Rep. Liane
"Buffie" McFadyen, D-Pueblo West.
"It is a critical piece of the puzzle to implement
our renewable- energy agenda."
The bill allows investor-owned utilities such as
Xcel and Aquila to recover the costs incurred in building
transmission lines as construction proceeds instead
of waiting until the project is done.
That will result in gradual rate increases to pay
for infrastructure improvements instead of suddenly
larger electricity bills when the public utilities
commission approves cost recovery at the end of a
project. "Ratepayer shock" will be avoided, McFadyen
The state will also be given authority to designate
energy resource zones, which will help utilities determine
where transmission capacity is needed.
Jake Meffley, a spokesman for Environment Colorado,
said the designation of resource zones is critical
if renewable energy is to be brought to consumers,
because they will help determine where to build transmission
lines and locate generation facilities.
"That's the fundamental Catch-22 of renewable-energy
development," Meffley said. "You've got great resources,
but they're not usually in the populated areas where
you've got transmission capacity."
Legislators from the Pikes Peak region supported
the measure, which does not affect cityowned Colorado
"If we're going to produce any forms of energy, renewable
or otherwise, transmission is very important," Rep.
Victor Mitchell, R- Castle Rock, said. "If we can't
transport energy, then it doesn't do a lot of good
to produce it. Anything we can do to produce more
energy is a good thing."
In another energy-related development, the Senate
gave final approval to a bill that will require Colorado
to adopt requirements for energy-conservation standards
for new renovated buildings.
SB51 says the state architect must designate an energy-
efficiency certification program that will guide construction
on those projects.
Two principal sets of energy-conservation standards
are in use in the U.S.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) Green Building Rating System has been used
in more than 5,000 buildings nationwide, according
to the U.S. Green Building Council, while the Green
Building Initiative's Green Globes system is a newer
program that has not yet achieved as high a degree
of market presence.
Melanie Smith, public policy director for Alliance
for Sustainable Colorado, which has lobbied in support
of the bill, said she thinks it was wise that the
bill avoided designating one program or the other
but that the LEED program is likely to be applied
to new buildings.
"It has to consider the reduction in energy and water
use, it has to be quantifiable and measurable, it
has to consider air quality," Smith said. "Currently,
there's only one that guarantees these standards.
Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver and the bill's
sponsor, said legislators are concerned that the costs
of complying with the certification requirements be
recoverable in a reasonable amount of time.
"Any upfront costs required by the program have
to be recovered within 15 years by lower energy and
water costs," Gordon said.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.
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