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Colorado’s 2011 state legislative session adjourned for the year on May 11. Following the 2010 midterm elections, the legislative session kicked off with a new governor (D) and a split legislature (Republicans controlling the House, and Democrats controlling the Senate). As a result of the legislature’s partisan split, neither political side garnered big policy or legislative wins. Following four years of aggressive clean energy and pro-environment policy under the previous administration and assembly, the state all but held steady this year on conservation issues.
On one end, lawmakers introduced several bills to rollback conservation gains. Specifically, legislators introduced bills to cut the state’s RPS from 30 to 10 percent (SB11-071
), and to prevent the state’s Public Utilities Commission from considering environmental risks when considering fuel acquisition and generation applications (SB11-058
). On the other end, lawmakers blocked over two dozen clean energy and pro-environment bills designed to provide financing for residential, public, and commercial energy improvement projects (HB11-1047
, and HB11-1204
); implement smart grid recommendations (SB11-131
); and establish an “extended producer responsibility” statewide electronics device recycling program (HB11-1244
Despite the Assembly’s overall poor performance on moving forward comprehensive clean energy and conservation policy, there were a few legislative bright spots. The Assembly passed legislation to streamline the state’s electric transmission siting process (SB11-045
); continued a Healthy Rivers Tax Donation (HB11-1177
); and most significantly, established a “Clean-technology Investment Fund,” (SB11-047
), which requires the state to divert 50 percent of cleantech and bioscience industry income tax withholding growth to a cash fund. Monies from the cash fund will be allocated in the form of grants to cleantech and bioscience start-up companies and inventions. The legislation is expected to generate about $2 million per year for the cleantech industry. E2 Member and Colorado Cleantech Industry Association Founding Board Member, Joel Serface, was a major player in the drafting and passage of SB11-047. Both SB11-045 and SB11-047 are awaiting the governor’s signature. HB11-1177 has already been signed into law.
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