Colorado lawmakers introduce biomass, energy bills

By Erin Voegele | January 12, 2015

Several energy-related bills were introduced in the Colorado Senate in early January, including one that aims to create an incentive program to promote the use of woody biomass in public buildings.

On Jan. 7, State Sen. Matt Jones introduced SB15-009. The legislation aims create a wood biomass grant program to promote the use of woody biomass as a fuel source for public buildings. According to the text of the bill, the program would be funded by an annual $1 million transfer from the state’s general fund for five fiscal years. The Colorado Department of Natural Resources would be tasked with awarding grants to a public entity that would “use woody biomass as a fuel source for a public building’s biomass energy system when either the use of the grant allows the public building to be cost-effective when compared with other fuels or the executive director reasonably believes that making the grant provides other substantial benefits as specified in rules.”

The legislation explains that preference would be made for projects that use a woody biomass energy system for two or more public buildings located near one another. The legislation also specifies rules for the grant program would include criteria to evaluate grant applications, in part, based on an analysis of whether the building is located within a reasonable distance of a forested area of the state, as determined by the state forester.

The bill was referred to the Colorado Senate Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy. The measure is also sponsored by Colorado Rep. Millie Hamner.

A separate bill, SB15-044, introduced on Jan. 7 by State. Sen. Scoot Ray aims to alter Colorado’s renewable energy standard, reducing the minimum percentage of renewable energy required of investor-owned utilities from 20 percent to 15 percent for 2015 through 2019. The minimum would also be reduced from 30 percent to 15 percent for years 2020. In addition, the bill would reduce the minimum amounts for cooperative electric associations from 20 percent to 15 percent for years 2020 and thereafter. That bill was also referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy. According to information published by the Colorado General Assembly, the bill as six additional sponsors in the Colorado Senate and is sponsored by State Rep. Dan Thurlow in the Colorado House of Representatives.

A third energy-related bill introduced Jan. 7 also aims to alter the state’s renewable energy standard. The legislation, SB15-046, would allow utilities to count each kWh of electricity obtained through retail distributed generation as 3 kWh for proposes of meeting the state renewable energy standards in 2020. The legislation would also allow cooperative electric associations to use purchases from community solar gardens to meet the retail distributed generation component of the renewable energy standard. SB15-046 was introduced by State Sen. Kevin Grantham and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy. The legislation currently shows no sponsors in the Colorado House.