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SB19-236

Sunset Public Utilities Commission

Concerning the continuation of the public utilities commission, and, in connection therewith, implementing the recommendations contained in the 2018 sunset report by the department of regulatory agencies and making an appropriation.
Session:
2019 Regular Session
Subject:
Energy
Bill Summary

Public utilities commission - continuation under sunset law - distribution system planning - workforce transition planning - clean energy plan - wholesale electric cooperative electric resource plan - vehicle booting regulation - energy impact bonds - rules - appropriation. The act implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies' 2018 sunset review and report on the public utilities commission (commission) by:

  • Authorizing the commission to promulgate rules to delegate routine, administrative transportation matters to staff and clarifying that the commission provides initial review of each case submitted for adjudication and determines whether it wishes to retain the case or to assign it to an administrative law judge or to an individual commissioner;
  • Providing for alternate forms of communication that a public utility may utilize to notify its customers of rate changes, including text message and e-mail, and requiring the public utility to post notice of the rate change on its public website, including a reference to the docket numbers of relevant rules or adjudicatory matters;
  • Transferring the administration of the legal services offset fund from the department of law to the department of regulatory agencies;
  • Making technical changes regarding criminal history record checks and telecommunications;
  • Repealing a requirement that an electric utility, as part of the electric utility's plan for acquisition of renewable resources, purchase a certain amount of energy from community solar gardens in 2011 through 2013, but delaying the repeal until 2043 to keep the legislation in place until contracts entered into pursuant to the requirement have likely all expired;
  • Repealing the requirement that the commission, in considering electric utilities' proposals for generation acquisition, give consideration to proposals to propose, fund, and construct integrated gasification combined cycle generation facilities; and
  • Clarifying that the commission may impose a civil penalty for a violation of railroad crossing safety regulations.

The act also:

  • Directs the commission to promulgate rules to require an investor-owned utility to file with the commission, for the commission's approval, a distribution system plan regarding the utility's anticipated distribution system investments;
  • Requires an investor-owned utility, when submitting a filing to the commission that includes a proposed retirement of an electric generating facility, to include in the filing a workforce transition plan that provides estimates of workforce transitions that will occur as a result of retiring the electric generating facility;
  • Directs the commission to conduct an investigation of financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms for aligning utility operations and investments with various public benefit goals, including safety, cost efficiency, and emissions reduction. The commission must report the findings of its investigation to the general assembly 18 months after the act's passage;
  • Requires the commission to open a nonadjudicatory proceeding to conduct a survey of public utility retail rates and to consider recommendations for providing rate relief in geographic areas with retail rates that are materially greater than the state average;
  • Directs the commission to require a wholesale electric cooperative to submit to the commission an application for approval of an integrated or electric resource plan;
  • Declares the rights of retail electric utility customers to generate, consume, store, and export electricity from eligible energy resources through distributed generation;
  • Requires a qualifying retail utility to submit a plan, and allows any other electric utility to voluntarily submit a plan, to the commission as part of its ongoing resource acquisition planning process to seek approval from the commission on how the qualifying retail utility plans to address clean energy targets established in the act. A utility implementing a clean energy plan may recover its cost of implementation through electricity rates, as approved by the commission.
  • Directs the commission to evaluate the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in certain proceedings related to a public utility subject to the commission's jurisdiction and to promulgate rules to require those public utilities, when submitting filings, to include the cost of carbon dioxide emissions related to the evaluation of electric generation resources. Starting in 2020, the commission is required to establish a base cost of carbon dioxide emissions in an amount not less than $46 and shall modify the cost thereafter based on escalation rates established by a federal interagency working group.
  • Authorizes the commission to regulate vehicle booting companies, which are private entities in the business of immobilizing motor vehicles through use of a boot, through issuance of permits and enforcement mechanisms including inspections, imposition of a civil penalty, and revocation of a permit; and
  • Adopts the "Colorado Energy Impact Bond Act", under which electric utilities may finance the retirement of fossil-fuel-powered generation facilities and the transition to renewable energy sources by issuing low-cost corporate securities. The securities are subject to commission approval and required to have a rating of at least AA or Aa2, must have a scheduled maturity date of 32 years or less, and are repayable through electricity rates as part of the costs of implementing a clean energy plan.

The act continues the functions of the commission for 7 years, until 2026.

$907,566 is appropriated for state fiscal year 2019-20 to the department of regulatory agencies for use by the commission for personal services, operating expenses, and the purchase of legal services. The money is appropriated from the public utilities commission fixed utilities fund. Additionally, $163,820 is appropriated to the department of public health and environment from the general fund.


(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)

Status

Introduced
Passed
Became Law

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Bill Text

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Temporary Guidelines for Review and Comment Meetings

The House will meet in limited session on Thursday, April 2nd. The Senate adjourned. The Capitol will be open for the duration of the session for those with essential business related to the session. The building will not be available for public tours. People without essential business are encouraged to access the session through the General Assembly website and Colorado Channel.  Anybody with essential business related to the session will be required to practice appropriate social distancing measures.