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Colorado Democrats Plan Renewable Energy Bills

Colorado, with Democrats in control of the governor’s office as well as the state Senate and House, has a good chance of signing a dozen or so renewable energy bills – three times the number introduced last year – into law, Rocky Mountain News reports.

According to the article, the following bills are likely to be introduced in ’07 session:

• Renewable electricity: Proposal would double Colorado’s renewable energy portfolio to require utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as the sun, wind, and plant and animal waste by 2015. The current mandate, approved by voters in November 2004, requires top utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2015. The measure likely will be sponsored by Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder.

• Biofuel: Proposal would require 10 percent of all transportation fuel sold in Colorado, except jet fuel, to contain 10 percent ethanol by the end of 2007. Offer credits to producers of E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol to reach that mandate faster at no cost to taxpayers. Offer incentives to producers of canola, sunflower and other crops to boost rural economies and increase production of biofuels. The measures will be sponsored by Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.

• New transmission: Proposal would develop new transmission lines that carry electricity from generating stations to substations by allowing utilities to recover the cost upfront from ratepayers. Map the state to figure out areas that would support wind and solar energy projects and define transmission corridors that could help bring power from projects in rural areas to towns and cities. Those measures, supported by Xcel Energy, will be sponsored by Senate President Joan FitzGerald, D-Coal Creek Canyon, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.

• Carbon sequestration: Proposal would finance a study by Colorado State University to map Colorado’s soil and farming practices to locate areas that are suitable for capturing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering the polluting gas in soil. Supported by farmers and corn growers, the bill helps farmers earn money by trading the carbon credits in the Chicago Climate Exchange or other trading platforms.

• Gas savings program: Proposal would direct utilities that deliver natural gas to launch energy-saving programs, including offering customers rebates for installing energy-efficient, natural gas appliances. The bill would allow natural gas utilities to levy a surcharge, or fee, on residential and commercial customers to pay for the programs. A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens in 2006. Establish building energy codes to increase the energy efficiency of new buildings. The bills likely will be sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder.

• Clean energy: Proposal would create a Clean Energy Fund to promote research and development of renewable technologies and biofuels. The bill likely will be introduced by Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction.

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