Dispatches from Denver’s Gold Dome

We are almost at the halfway point of Colorado’s 70th General Assembly, and CCIA has been involved in a flurry of legislation important to the cleantech business community. Still on the horizon is the March budget forecast and introduction of the annual state budget, also known as the “long bill”.  As always, the first half of the session has been eventful, so let’s look at some of the highlights so far.

Bill Update

CCIA Sponsored Legislation 

HB 15-1180 – Cleantech & Medical Device Sales & Use Tax Refund – Creates a refund of up to $50k per company for sales and use taxes paid for equipment used in research and development. The bill passed the House Business Affairs Committee on a bipartisan 11-2 vote and last week passed the House Finance Committee 11-0. The next stop is House Appropriations. Unfortunately the bill was amended to last only three years.

HB 15-1230 – Innovative Workforce Intern Grant Program – This bill creates a paid internship program for high-tech companies. The program would provide $2,500 for the intern and $2,500 to the company for training and expenses for secondary, vocational and undergraduate student internships. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) can partner with associations to help identify companies and students and administer the program. This bill has yet to have a legislative hearing but should be on the calendar soon.

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Bills

SB 15 – 044 – Decrease All RPS Requirements to 15% – This is identical to a bill that died in committee last session. Strangely enough, the bill also requires the RPS mandate for Investor Owned Utilities to decrease from 30 to 15% even though both Xcel and Black Hills are at well over that threshold for renewable energy generation. CCIA actively opposes this bill. Postponed indefinitely.  

SB 15 – 046 – Rural RPS Distributed Generation – This bill deals with the RPS for rural electric co-operatives and their distributed generation (DG) carve-out requirements. The bill does three things: 1) Adds a 3:1 multiplier for DG projects towards compliance, 2) Removes the distinction between wholesale and retail DG, and; 3) Includes Community Solar Gardens (CSG) as eligible for retail DG. This bill really crawls into the weeds for DG/RPS policy, and after many meetings and discussions, an amendment was introduced to remove the 3X multiplier, allow community solar gardens to count towards retail DG and provides some DG flexibility for the unique load profiles that certain rural utilities have. Additionally, CCIA believes that a position to expand the bill to include “renewable energy gardens” would be better policy and is working on revising that bill language. CCIA is in a neutral/monitor position.

HB 15 – 1118 – All Hydropower RPS – Allows all hydro-electric power and pumped hydro projects regardless of size and age to be counted for renewable portfolio standard compliance. Existing statutes apply for new hydro projects of up to 10 megawatts to count for the RPS and up to 30 megawatts before 2005. CCIA actively opposes this bill. Postponed indefinitely.

Miscellaneous Bills

SB 15 – 063 – Alternative Energy For Schools Program – Builds off the successful Wind for Schools program administered by NREL but no longer funded. It creates a state grant program of $15K per school to purchase renewable energy on-site and incorporate that technology into the curriculum. CCIA actively supports this bill and it is sitting in Senate Appropriations.

SB 15 – 092 – Multiple-Agency Review of the State Carbon Emission Plan (111d) – Requires the PUC to review and approve the state plan to comply with 111d EPA greenhouse gas reductions and assess whether compliance will have a greater than 2% increase in consumer energy costs and other metrics. Then the plan goes to the legislature for approval by a 2/3 majority. If the plan fails and Colorado does not submit a state plan to the EPA, then the EPA can introduce their own plan for the state. If this were to be the scenario, we believe most would agree that a Colorado-led plan is better than a federal one. CCIA actively opposes this bill. Postponed indefinitely.

HB 15 – 1093 – Repeal Efficient Water Fixtures – Repeals the new law requiring all fixtures sold in Colorado to be WaterSense certified starting in 2016. This existing law will save Coloradans significant amounts of water in the future. CCIA actively opposes this bill. Postponed indefinitely.

HB 15 – 1132 – Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit – A bipartisan bill that creates a tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for residential home energy efficiency improvements. CCIA actively supports this bill and it is sitting in House Finance. 

HB 15-1219 – Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit – allows for an 80% cash refund for qualified renewable energy products in enterprise zones in lieu of an investment tax credit of 100% available for up to 22 years. Current statute allows a tax credit of up to 3% up to $1.5 million and gives a company flexibility to take the credit with an upfront refund of 80%, thus providing the state a net gain of 20% while allowing the company the option to monetize the credit. CCIA actively supports this bill. It just passed the House Transportation and Energy Committee and the next stop is House Finance.

HB 15-1246Colorado Crowdfunding – a bipartisan bill that allows investors to get securities for their investments up to $5,000. Current securities law restricts businesses’ ability to raise capital through crowdfunding, which is the raising of money online through small contributions from a large number of investors, restricting the offering of stock/equity for non-accredited investors. This bill is another avenue for cleantech companies to raise capital in an increasingly complex investment landscape. CCIA actively supports this bill.

If you would like to become active in CCIA’s policy committee, or if you have a question about one of the bills listed above, please contact Chris Votoupal at cvotoupal@hpfirm.com.