Interconnection & Transmission Planning (Colorado PUC docket 20M-0080E)
Two main points:
- Non-Wires Alternatives (NWA) should, and in fact must, be considered as alternatives to the proposed utility transmission projects, and their preferred alternative must be justified on a “best-cost” (best-value) basis, per Rules 3627(c)(VI) and 3627(b)(I).
- A 10-year transmission plan must be presented that accommodates the 80% renewable energy by 2030 mandate in SB19-236, and it must be presented in this cycle because Xcel must present a “Clean Energy Plan” to reach 80×30 in the upcoming ERP. It is necessary for this to include a great deal of new renewable generation, and bidders must have a sense of Points of Interconnection so they can form their bids.
These two points, more or less, were also made by OCC and WRA earlier in the process, and furthermore, the Commissioners requested Supplemental Information on the utilities’ Joint Filing that includes these two topics.
Action: The deadline for party or intervenor supplemental information was June 7, but the next steps are for this to be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who should schedule a public hearing for comments, so you may sign up for that.
Colorado is one of just four states with statutory GHG reduction requirements in law, with backstop authority given to the Air Quality Control Commission. The explicit language of Colorado Revised Statute § 25-7-140 (2)(a)(III) (from SB19-96) says: “By July 1, 2020, [the Commission shall] publish a notice of proposed rule-making that proposes rules to implement measures that would cost-effectively allow the state to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.”
Yet the AQCC has not yet drafted these regulations nor issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR). The only regulation so far is Regulation 22, which dealt with only half a percent by 2025—nowhere close to meeting the 26% GHG reduction by 2025 and 50% by 2030 goals of SB19-1296 and HB19-1261.
Action: Contact the Colorado Department of Health & Environment and the Air Quality Control Commissioners to ask about the requirement in CRS 25-7-140 (2) (III) ask them to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) by July 1 for the state to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals as required by the legislation. (If the NOPR is not issued, then July 1 triggers the 35-day window for challenging failure to do so. State staff have disagreed that a NOPR is required and not supported the AQCC by drafting proposed regs.) You can read about those rules in the Colorado Public Radio story here.
Pam Kiely, senior director of regulatory strategy with the Environmental Defense Fund, pushed for businesses supplying fuel to Colorado to be required to directly report emissions to the state, instead of the state seeking out that information through existing reports. “There will be questions as to whether that data is in fact comprehensive, and whether there are any gaps,” Kiely said. She believes it could also lead to transparency issues, since the information might be collected without details such as entities of emitters and the makeup of the emissions.
“And that’s really important when it comes to really having a full picture of what is happening in Colorado with respect to greenhouse gas pollution,” Kiely said. “And it’s certainly the way that other states who have other comprehensive greenhouse gas reporting requirements have chosen to ensure the data that their collecting is accurate and actionable from a regulation perspective.”
Jeremy Nichols is the climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. He felt the adoption of the regulation was the right step, but not a big enough step to “reign in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.” “We’ve got to do way, way more than just go after HFCs, and way more than just this basic reporting rule,” Nichols said, concerning meeting the state’s climate goals.
He had issues with various parts of the regulation, including its exclusion of emissions from the state’s exported oil and gas. “How can we claim that we’re meeting any climate objectives, or that we’re making climate progress, when all we’re doing is producing oil and gas and coal to be consumed or combusted somewhere else?” Nichols questioned.
A statement from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association said 70 percent of the state’s natural gas liquid sales are not combusted in Colorado or in the year they were produced. “So production inventories can be significantly different than emissions inventories … We urge [the state] to use the existing data to fill in any gaps,” wrote Dan Haley, president and CEO of COGA, in the statement. “There is not currently a one size fits all approach to emissions monitoring, and more research and development is needed before rules can be effectively imposed and implemented.”
CPR News reached out to Trane, a company with a production facility in Pueblo that produces HVAC, chillers and other equipment that utilizes HFCs in their products. We did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Drilling and Dollars: The Colorado Oil and Gas Industry’s Stream of Political Influence
Oil and gas development is not creating the plethora of jobs they claim to be; but there is one sector of the economy where the industry is a robust job creator: paid government influence.
The reach of the oil and gas industry is vast. When SB19-181 was heard in the House Committee on Energy & Environment on March 18, 2019, lobbyists opposing the bill outnumbered committee members six to one. And industry lobbyists rarely stand alone: other pro-business lobbyists working for organizations like the Colorado Competitive Council and Chamber of Commerce are no strangers to carrying the oil and gas industry’s water. This synergy only further reinforces oil and gas’ stream of influence.