Section 1 of the bill directs the public utilities commission (PUC) to approve utilities' applications to build new transmission facilities if the PUC finds that the new facilities would assist the utilities in meeting the state's clean energy goals established in 2019. Applications are deemed approved if the PUC does not deny them within 180 days after completion and public notice of the application.
Section 2 directs the PUC, as part of its ongoing docket regarding evaluation of the benefits of a regional transmission organization, to undertake and, by December 31, 2020, to complete a review of existing and potential additional energy resource zones for renewable resource generation development areas within Colorado. The purposes of the study are to:
- Identify planned electric transmission lines (lines) and renewable resource generation development areas within Colorado that have potential to support competition among renewable energy developers for development of renewable resource generation projects;
- Evaluate opportunities to support transitions in electricity generation by evaluating renewable resource generation opportunities located in communities with substantial economic activity and employment in the fossil fuel industry; and
- Identify opportunities for the development of renewable resources:
- For export to consumers outside of Colorado and the potential to use new and existing transmission capacity for export; and
- To be interconnected to the transmission system in a manner that promotes a reliable and integrated transmission system and shifts the state away from inefficient, radial transmission development.
Section 2 also amends the existing statute to narrow the scope of the PUC's docket inquiry, including only consideration of regional transmission organizations and removing references to energy imbalance markets, power pools, and joint tariffs.
If a potential line in Colorado has been submitted to the PUC as part of an electric resource plan based on the inclusion of planned lines in the report the PUC is required to submit as part of its docket inquiry, pursuant to existing requirements for transmission plan reporting, or under a regional transmission plan required by another applicable federal regional transmission planning requirement, section 2 allows bidders in an electric resource plan to rely on the planned line for interconnection in their proposals made pursuant to utility resource plans.
Under section 2, the PUC is directed to review clean energy project bids without such bids being burdened by the cost of planned lines. If the development of such lines would result in cost-effective generation being developed to meet the state's clean energy goals, then the PUC shall direct public utilities to submit those lines for approval and construction in order to meet the state's 2030 clean energy goals and beyond.
The federal energy regulatory commission requires each public utility transmission provider to participate in a regional transmission planning process to produce a regional transmission plan. If construction of a line in Colorado has been approved in a regional transmission plan or by another applicable federal regional transmission planning requirement, section 3 affords an incumbent electric utility owning the existing transmission facilities to which the line will connect up to 180 days after the line has been approved to give written notice to the PUC that the incumbent electric utility intends to construct, own, and maintain the line. If the incumbent electric utility does not provide notice to the PUC, the incumbent electric utility surrenders its right of first refusal to construct, own, and maintain the line. If the incumbent electric utility provides the notice, the incumbent electric utility, if it is subject to the PUC's regulation, shall, within 24 months after filing the notice, file an application with the PUC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the line.
The right of first refusal is conditioned on the incumbent electric utility having joined a regional transmission organization and exercising the right of first refusal within ten years thereafter.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)