A penny wise and a dollar foolish

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO – The Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA) successfully killed efforts to pass a bill that would have created strong energy savings and big money benefits for Colorado homeowners and businesses. 

“The Colorado Rural Electric Association is a penny wise and a dollar foolish,” said Heather Maurer with the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG). “The rural utilities decision to block House Bill 1107 will cost Colorado homes and businesses $600 million in money they would have saved on their energy bills.” 

House Bill 1107, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga (D-Senate) and Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) would have promoted energy efficiency for rural, town, and municipal utilities and benefited nearly 1 million Coloradans. CREA lobbied heavily to kill the bill in the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee today.

Energy efficiency is a key for addressing Colorado’s global warming pollution.  HB 1107 would have cut global warming pollution from Colorado’s power plants by 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2020.

“CREA’s move today was wrong-headed and misguided. CREA could have been part of the solution in tackling global warming pollution, instead they decided to be part of the problem,” said Pam Kiely, Legislative Director for Environment Colorado. “Energy efficiency is a win-win for our environment and our economy.”

The legislation is the companion bill one passed last year calling on investor-owned utilities in Colorado to invest at least 2% of their revenue into efficiency programs.  House Bill 1107 would have extended those programs to electric cooperatives and municipal utilities.  It is expected that between 2008 and 2020, consumers would have realized $600 million in energy savings.  

“Legislation adopted in 2007 is stimulating investor-owned utilities such as Xcel Energy to greatly expand their energy efficiency programs, to the great benefit of their customers,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “Rural electric cooperatives and municipalities need to get on board.”

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project estimates that adoption of HB1107 will result in 420 megawatts of peak power savings and 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity savings by 2020. The latter value is equivalent to the electricity use of 170,000 typical homes in Colorado. 

About House Bill 1107

  • Requires rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities with more than 5,000 customers to spend 1% of revenue in 2009 on energy efficiency and 2% starting in 2010
  • Allows utilities determine which energy efficiency programs to implement
  • Energy efficiency programs include financial incentives, customer education, technical assistance, and other activities that promote more efficient electricity use
  • Permits utilities use funds from outside resources to meet the spending requirements
  • Requires affected utilities to submit annual reports to the Governor’s Energy Office but does not subject rural and municipal utilities to regulation by the Colorado PUC.