April 24, 2019
Denver, CO – The Colorado State Senate today voted 21-to-14 to pass SB19-236, Sunset Public Utilities Commission (PUC), a bill to renew the PUC for the next seven years, take meaningful steps to address climate change, and hold utility companies more accountable to ratepayers. The legislation is sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“I am proud that the Senate voted to pass a version of this sunset legislation that will hold the Public Utilities Commission accountable to ratepayers, not investor-owned utility companies,” said President Garcia. “By requiring the PUC to put the interests of the public first, we can ensure the PUC lives up to its mission to protect ratepayers from high costs and save them money on their utility bills.”
“Today, we took meaningful steps to address the climate crisis,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg. “By modernizing the Commission’s regulatory framework and requiring the PUC to better account for the rapidly evolving energy market, we can ensure Colorado’s energy grid is as clean and efficient as possible.
The PUC is responsible for providing oversight of Colorado’s utilities and protecting Coloradans from high utility costs. In seeking to address climate change, SB19-236 will direct the PUC to make sure that the costs of pollution are given full consideration as part of utility planning. The bill also directs the PUC to implement rules requiring regulated utilities to file distribution system plans to ensure safe, reliable, and affordable services that satisfy customers’ changing expectations, plan for the future, and take advantage of technological advancements that benefit customers.
“Southern Coloradans face some of the highest electrical costs along the Front Range because the Public Utilities Commission has not always lived up to its mission to put the interests of ratepayers first,” said President Garcia. “That is why I felt it was so important that a southern Coloradan had a seat at the table. I believe the changes we’ve made fundamentally alter the PUC and will make a big difference for Coloradans across the state.”
Given southern Colorado’s history with investor-owned utility companies and how they impact employment, this legislation would also require such companies to file a workforce transition plan when retiring a particular power plant facility in order to support job transitions for Colorado workers. The Senate also voted to pass an amendment offered by President Garcia to require the PUC to hold a public hearing to solicit public commentary, investigate rates in regions that are higher than the state average, and identify ways to reduce them.
For more information on this legislation, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/SB19-236.