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Colorado Tackles Climate-Warming Emissions

Colorado legislators pass bills that will reduce building emissions and cut utility costs.

Colorado legislators passed three bills today and four total this session to help Coloradans cut energy waste and power their homes and businesses with clean electricity. In addition to reducing utility bills, cutting down on indoor air pollution, and creating family-sustaining jobs in the buildings sector, these bills represent progress toward Colorado’s ambitious goals to reduce climate-warming emissions.

codewatcher colorado energy efficiency standards

Governor Polis is expected to sign the following bills in the coming weeks:

  • SB21-246, sponsored by Senator Stephen Fenberg and Representatives Alex Valdez and Meg Froelich, directs regulated electric utilities to create incentives for households and businesses to upgrade to efficient electric appliances, heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters.
  • HB21-1286, sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Alex Valdez and Senators Kevin Priola and Brittany Pettersen, requires owners of large commercial buildings to track and report their energy use over time and comply with performance standards that will require inefficient buildings to cut energy waste and reduce pollution.
  • SB21-264, sponsored by Senator Chris Hansen and Representatives Alex Valdez and Tracey Bernett, directs gas utilities to create clean heat plans to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with providing fuel to homes and businesses.
  • HB21-1238, sponsored by Representative Tracey Bernett and Senator Chris Hansen, directs the Public Utilities Commission to establish energy savings targets for gas utility demand-side management programs and updates the methodology used to calculate the costs and benefits to expand energy efficiency programs and help more customers cut energy waste.

Here’s what the experts have to say about the impact of these bills: 

NRDC Building Decarbonization Advocate Alejandra Mejia Cunningham: “By powering our homes and businesses with clean electricity and making them as efficient as possible, we can eliminate toxic indoor air pollution and cut down on our utility bills. Collectively, these policies give homeowners and businesses alike a chance to take stock of their energy use, take advantage of incentives to upgrade to modern appliances, and trust that utilities are delivering ever-cleaner power produced right here in Colorado. At a time when research clearly shows that old gas-powered appliances waste energy and contribute to troubling health effects, policies that help Coloradans make healthier and more affordable energy choices are just common sense.”

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project Buildings Efficiency Senior Associate Christine Brinker: “This package of four groundbreaking bills is a big step towards helping Colorado’s homes and businesses cut energy waste, save money, and reduce climate pollution. The legislation will also support thousands of new jobs in selling and installing energy efficiency improvements and new high-efficiency electric appliances, accelerating our state’s shift to a clean economy.”

Colorado Sierra Club Deputy Director Emily Gedeon: “Transitioning away from fossil fuels and powering our homes and buildings with clean, efficient electricity will improve our air quality and safety while advancing climate justice. Thanks to the leadership of Colorado legislators, we'll now have many more tools available to reduce a major source of climate pollution in Colorado.”

Western Resource Advocates Government Affairs Manager in Colorado Jessica Gelay: “The combustion of fossil gas in homes and buildings is a significant source of the greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change, and this suite of bills will take steps to decrease harmful pollution from this sector. Of particular note is SB 21-264, which sets greenhouse gas reduction targets for gas distribution utilities, based on the state’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap and Colorado’s science-based climate goals adopted in 2019. This innovative policy, modeled on a WRA-developed concept, establishes technology-neutral standards to reduce pollution, with key oversight from the Public Utilities Commission to protect consumers throughout the transition.”

Healthy Air and Water Colorado Director Sabrina Pacha: “Fossil-fuel powered homes and buildings are not only significantly contributing greenhouse gas pollution, they are also contributing to poor indoor air quality that is harming our health. These bills are a big win for public health as they will allow Coloradans to more easily transition to healthier homes and buildings.”

Conservation Colorado Government Affairs Director Katie Belgard: "Coloradans deserve to have pollution-free homes by transitioning away from dirty energy. State leaders took climate action by passing a slate of bills that will help us reduce emissions from the third-largest emitting sector–buildings. The four bills work together to put Colorado on a path towards a clean energy future while cutting utility costs and hitting our climate targets."

CoPIRG Advocate Allison Conwell: “This package of bills will help us meet our climate goals, help consumers get cleaner air inside their homes, and lead to consumer savings. “We deserve systems that heat our homes, provide us with hot water, and run our appliances without producing dangerous pollution that can harm us both inside and outside of our homes. These bills will help us get there.”