Public Utilities Commission Modernize Electric Transmission Infrastructure
Section 1 of the act authorizes the public utilities commission (PUC) to approve utilities' applications to build new transmission facilities if the PUC, consistent with its authority, finds that the new facilities would assist the utilities in meeting the state's clean energy goals established in 2019. In constructing or expanding transmission facilities, a utility must use its own employees, engage a contractor whose employees have access to federally approved apprenticeship programs, or both. Section 1 also requires the PUC to consider the ability of the proposed facilities to support future expansion as needed to enable the utility to participate in an organized wholesale market (OWM), which is defined in section 2 as an organization established for the purpose of coordinating and managing the transmission of electricity among multiple public utilities on a multistate or regional basis. An application for construction or expansion of transmission facilities is deemed approved if the PUC does not deny it within 240 days after the application is complete and public notice has been given.
Section 6 imposes a 180-day deadline for approval by a local government if local government approval is required.
Sections 4 and 7 create the Colorado electric transmission authority (CETA) as an independent special purpose authority, and section 4 specifies the composition and manner of appointment of the board of directors that governs the authority. CETA is authorized to select a qualified transmission operator to finance, plan, acquire, maintain, and operate eligible electric transmission and interconnected storage facilities (eligible facilities).
Under sections 4, 8, and 9, CETA is granted various powers necessary to accomplish its purposes, including the power to:
- Issue revenue bonds;
- Identify and establish intrastate electric transmission corridors;
- Coordinate with other entities to establish interstate electric transmission corridors;
- Exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire eligible facilities; and
- Collect payments of reasonable rates, fees, interest, or other charges from persons using eligible facilities.
CETA is generally subject to state open-records and open-meetings requirements, but proprietary confidential information that it holds, including power purchase agreements, costs of production, costs of transmission, transmission service agreements, credit reviews, detailed power models, and financing statements, is not subject to inspection. Section 10 authorizes payment of CETA's administrative expenses, not to exceed $500,000 annually, from an existing cash fund administered by the PUC.
Section 2 sets out deadlines and conditions under which an electric utility that owns and controls transmission facilities (transmission utility) is required to join an OWM. The commission may delay or waive this requirement for a utility that is unable, despite its best efforts, to find a viable and available OWM to join or if the commission determines, based on its evaluation of specified factors, that requiring the transmission utility to join an OWM would not be in the public interest. A transmission utility that joins an OWM may recover costs of participating in the OWN from its ratepayers.
Under current law, a cooperative electric association with an electric easement on real property is authorized to install or to allow a commercial broadband supplier to install broadband facilities on the real property, subject to notice and procedural requirements. Section 3 expands the authorization to apply to any non-investor-owned, non-municipally-owned, vertically integrated supplier of electric energy to its customers or members.
Section 9 specifies that when a right-of-way is taken for an interstate electric transmission line, the court shall evaluate public purpose in light of the transmission system as a whole, including public use and benefits occurring either within Colorado or at a regional level.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)