by Chris Votoupal, Deputy Director, CCIA

Final 2014 Dispatch from the Gold Dome…unless there’s a special session 

The final gavel has come down on the Second Session of Colorado’s 69th General Assembly. Once again CCIA was proud to help sponsor and pass a package of bills to impact the cleantech business community. Additionally, CCIA helped to defeat several bills that would have had negative implications to important cleantech sectors.I must mention the rumors flying around about the Governor calling a special session this summer to deal with the dozen or more ballot initiatives dealing with a variety of hydraulic fracturing and local control issues. We will be monitoring this situation closely on behalf of our broad cleantech business interests.

CCIA Sponsored Legislation

HB 14 – 1012
Advanced Industries Investor Tax Credit – this bill passed both chambers and now waits for the Governor’s signature. The final bill includes more than $2.6 million in tax credits available over the next 3.5 years for angel investors who invest in start-up and early stage Advanced Industry companies.

The AI Investor Tax Credit bill allows a maximum $50K state income tax credit to a qualified investor who invests in an Advanced Industry start-up or early stage company. Thirty states have similar tax incentives and have seen a bump in private investment capital since implementation. The AI Tax Credit provides Colorado with another investor incentive in what is a very competitive capital acquisition landscape.

The credits will be available starting July 1st.  Stay tuned for the OEDIT application process – we will be sure to distribute the information as soon as it is released.

SB 14-200Alternative Fuel Vehicle HOT/HOV Lane Access Increase – increases the number of available permits for alternative fuel vehicles to use HOT/HOV lanes for free. Currently this benefit is capped at 2,000 vehicles and this number is well below similar incentive programs in other western states including Arizona and Utah. Unfortunately this bill died in Senate Appropriations due to fiscal note issues with CDOT related to the private contract signed to expand and maintain the US 36 corridor.
We are proud to have partnered with CCIA member GM to craft this important alternative fuel vehicle incentive and had bipartisan co-sponsors in both the House and Senate from the Front Range and the West Slope. We will revisit this issue this summer with the legislature’s Transportation Legislative Review Committee.

HB 14-1326Alternative Fuel Heavy Duty Truck Tax Credit – provides a tax credit to a variety of alternative fuel heavy trucks of up to $7,500 for CNG, hydrogen fuel cell, propane and electric trucks. CCIA successfully added an amendment to include hydraulic hybrid technology (of up to a $6,000 tax credit) for companies like Lightning Hybrids in Loveland. This bill is now waiting to be signed by the Governor. 
This transportation bill had a broad stakeholder coalition including being co-led by CCIA member company Saoradh Energy Partners’ portfolio company Ward Alternative Energy.

Advanced Industries Grant Funding 

HB 14 – 1011 – this bill obtained $5 million from the state General Fund for the Advanced Industries Accelerator grant program. This is in addition to cleantech and bioscience’s dedicated funding streams not subject to annual appropriations. This bill is scheduled to be signed by the Governor on Saturday, May 17 at CCIA member company, EcoVapor’s, Greely office.

Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory Funding Bill 

SB 14-011 – obtained $1million/year for the next two years. This research consortium utilizes state funds to leverage federal and private sector research dollars and has a stellar track record of an 8:1 return on investment. Governor Hickenlooper is scheduled to sign this bill into law on Friday, May 16 at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Build Out

SB 14-028 – expands the allowable grantees eligible to apply for funding under the EV Infrastructure Grant Fund that CCIA helped craft last year. This bill expands the grant fund to non-profit and for-profit entities in addition to universities and state government agencies. Simply stated, we need to strategically place EV charging stations where they can benefit the most people. I am proud to report Governor Hickenlooper has signed this bill into law.

Water Efficiency

SB 14 – 103 – this bill, brought forward by Denver Water, will phase out inefficient residential water fixtures starting in 2016. If implemented, retailers in Colorado would only be able to sell EPA certified WaterSense sinks, toilets and shower fixtures. Denver Water estimates that by 2050 this proposal would save Coloradans 40,000 acre/feet/year. This is almost equivalent to the current storage capacity of Gross Reservoir. This bill is currently on Gov. Hickenlooper’s desk with the final outcome unknown. Various groups are pressuring a veto on this and CCIA recently sent a letter of support encouraging the Governor to sign this important water conservation bill into law.  

Died on the Vine

CCIA helped to defeat four measures set to weaken or repeal SB 13-252, which increased Colorado’s renewable energy standard for rural utilities from 10 to 20% last year. Additionally, CCIA fought behind the scenes to preserve $5 million from the general fund for the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant program from some lower priority economic development bills.