Gov. Ritter Caps Off New Energy Economy Agenda with Final Bill Signing

Environment Colorado

DENVER— Putting his final stamp on clean energy legislation, Gov. Ritter today signed a package of five bills to cap off the New Energy Economy agenda he initiated in 2007. Since Ritter took office, 56 clean energy bills have been signed into law. Key measures brought progress in utility efficiency and green building, resulted in a tripling of the state’s renewable energy standard, and put the state on a path to the retirement of four metro-area coal plants.

Conservation and clean energy advocates applauded the General Assembly and Gov. Ritter for doing the hard work of advancing innovative programs that will bring new business investment and jobs to the state.     
‘The Governor and the legislature have harnessed the broad public support among Coloradans for sun and wind power to make Colorado a national leader in the New Energy Economy,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters. “This leadership means that we are meeting both our economic and environmental challenges as we create home-grown jobs.” 
Advocates said that each of the five bills meets a key challenge in getting clean energy to Colorado consumers. Collectively, they strengthen the foundation that will enable continuing advances in the deployment of clean energy over the next decade. 

“Today is a fitting capstone for Colorado’s New Energy Economy, and rightfully puts an exclamation point on the legacy that Governor Bill Ritter will leave for future generations of Coloradans,” said Pam Kiely, program director of Environment Colorado. “Although the Guinness Book of World Records was unfortunately not in attendance to witness the 56th clean energy bill signed into law in four years, Governor Ritter and Colorado’s General Assembly have made history today by repowering Colorado with our clean renewable resources.”

House Bill 1098, by Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, and Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, promotes transparency in the governance and election of the directors of rural electric cooperatives. New procedures provided in the bill will empower customers to promote initiatives, including clean energy programs, in the member-governed cooperatives.

“Members of rural electric associations deserve to have a real voice in decisions made by their utility,” said Rep. Levy. “Too often, members who advocate for more renewable energy and energy efficiency programs have been shut out by old guard board members who are resistant to change.  House Bill 1098 will open up the election process for the board of directors, and will allow REA members to provide input to board members as they make important decisions about their energy sources.”

House Bill 1328, the New Energy Jobs Creation Act, creates a statewide clean energy financing district.  Sponsored by Rep. Joe Miklosi, D-Denver, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, the act enables Colorado residents to opt into a financing program that will help them meet the upfront cost of renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades.
“A statewide financing district will pay multiple dividends,” said Rep. Miklosi. “It will help generate 3,000 jobs over five years, increase property value 10% long term, and attract more manufacturing jobs to Colorado.”   
Senate Bill 180, by Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, and Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Denver, creates a task force to direct the development of a statewide “smart grid,” an advanced electricity system to integrate multiple sources of renewable energy and reliably distribute power to a growing population.  

“The Colorado Smart Grid Commission will prepare for Colorado’s energy future by bringing together the experts from all areas of energy to research, plan and propose implementation of a smart grid for Colorado,” said Senator Williams.

House Bill 1333, by Rep. Edward Vigil, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, and Linda Newell, D-Littleton, creates the Green Jobs Colorado Training Program, a two-year pilot that offers grants to community colleges, vocational schools, apprenticeships, and other organizations to train workers for Colorado’s clean energy industries.

House Bill 1267, by Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Denver, and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, makes leasing solar panels more affordable for homeowners. It extends a tax exemption previously available only to homeowners who buy solar panels to those who lease them.  

“These five bills cap off four very successful years for the conservation community,” said Charlie Montgomery of the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “And they set the stage for further clean energy gains down the road.”