BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1055
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION & ENERGY
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02:53 PM -- House Bill 09-1055
Representative McFadyen announced that votes on amendments and a final vote on House Bill 09-1055 will not occur today, although testimony and witness statements will be taken.
Representative Gwyn Green, prime sponsor, discussed the merits of the bill. Representative Green discussed the problem of carbon dioxide emissions and the need for consumers to be aware of their energy usage. Representative Green stated that the legislation will create an awareness for consumers to manage energy use. Representative Green also discussed forthcoming amendments. The first amendment would provide a formula to convert the amount of kilowatt hours into the amount of carbon dioxide used. The second amendment iwould require a brief statement on the bill stating that the customer is responsible for emitting a specified amount of carbon dioxide and that it is a leading pollutant.
Representative Primavera asked if a formula could be put on the bill to let consumers calculate their carbon dioxide output themselves. Representative Green responded that there is a formula but that her bill would be more effective by requiring utility companies to compute the formula for consumers.
Representative McFadyen asked for testimony from witnesses opposed to the bill.
02:58 PM -- Mr. Geoff Hier, representing the Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA), testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Hier stated that the bill would create administrative burdens and that caculating carbon is problematic and that it is difficult to ascertain an accurate figure at a household level. Representative Looper asked how many of the 21 co-ops represented by CREA had customers wanting this information. Mr. Hier responded that he is not aware of demand for this information.
03:04 PM -- Mr. Dan Hodges, representing Colorado Springs Utilities, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Hodges stated that the legislation does not create a reliable or valuable conservation tool for consumers. While it is possible to determine usage from a source, such information fluctuates according to energy usage. Mr. Hodges discussed company outreach programs to encourage conservation. Representative Merrifield asked if the current bill would only affect the Colorado Springs Utilities; Mr. Hodges stated that is accurrate. Representative Fischer asked whether utilities already track energy distributed to households as a means of tracking for payment. Mr. Hodges responded that information is tracked by an economic, not emissions, dispatch. Representative Frangas asked further questions. Mr. Hodges responded that the measure would be an unreliable measure. Representative Looper asked whether municipally owned utilities are limited by the customer threshold in the bill. Mr. Hodges responded that he did not have that information. Representative Looper asked Representative Green as to why all utilities are not included in the bill. Representative Green responded that the 80,000 consumer threshold is to avoid creating an economic hardship in applying the formula. Represenative Looper asked if Representative Green knew that only Colorado Springs would be affected. Representative Green responded that she did not. Representative Fischer expressed that the bill may apply to Fort Collins utilities as well.
03:13 PM -- Mr. David Lock, representating the Colorado Association of Utilities, first responded to Representative Fischer's question that the Fort Collins area serves less than 80,000 customers.
03:14 PM -- Ms. Margy Christensen, representing Source Gas, testified in opposition to the bill. She indicated that she did not necessarily believe that its customers would read fine print on billing statements. Ms. Christiansen stated that consumers do look at energy usage on their home appliances. According to Ms. Christiansen, Source Gas has provided information to consumers via its website to estimate energy usage.
03:16 PM -- Mr. Bill Schroeder, representing Intermountain Rural Electric Association, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Schroeder discussed problems with the legislation in reaching its goals. Representative Fischer asked whether distance of locations are reflected in kilowatt hours. Mr. Schroeder responded that the information for the Intermountain Rural Electric Association is generated through Xcel on a contractual relationship and that determination of types of energy sources, which are combined in the power lines, is not possible. Representative King asked about calculation for varying energy sources. Representative McFadyen responded that a representative from Xcel Energy will be testifying and can address that question.
03:24 PM -- Mr. Frank Prager, representing Xcel Energy, testified in opposition to the bill. Mr. Prager discussed previous plans to place similar figures on utility bills, as well as a web-based approach to provide this information to consumers. Mr. Prager emphasized that the latter is a better approach as it provides more accuracy and information relevant to the consumer. The approach is also more flexible and helps to resolve problems in energy usage calculation. Representative McFadyen asked about the Public Utilities Commission recommendations that Mr. Prager references. Mr. Prager responded that he would provide copies to the committee. Representative King repeated his question about different energy source turbines and how an accurate reading could be given to a customer. Mr. Prager responded that individual power plants are not dispatched to individual customers or communities. Mr. Prager also discussed complications due to trading of energy with other utilities. Representative Primavera asked about a web-based approach and if the complications associated with determining usage with an online approach. Mr. Prager responded that consumers could use a web-based program, although it would be based on average carbon dioxide output over time. Yet the program could offer information on customer usage over time. Representative Frangas asked for clarification on real time usage. Mr. Prager responded that with more technology about the grid, Xcel Energy can provide customers will signals on how the system is operating at a particular moment, allowing customers to alter their usage. Representative Fischer asked if the Governor's Energy Office has a greenhouse gas calculator on their site. Mr. Prager responded that he did not know if this was the case.
03:36 PM -- Representative McFadyen asked for any additional witnesses in opposition. Seeing none, the chair opened the floor to testimony in support of the bill.
03:36 PM -- Ms. Brenda Fosmire, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Fosmire discussed the motivations of the bill and global warming concerns. Ms. Fosmire cited positive results of the Clean Air Act upon environmental quality, and that use of consumer choice has been an effective means of environmental quality. Supporting materials were provided to the committee showing an example utility billing statement (Attachment A). Ms. Fosmire stated that the legislation will encourage lifestyle changes by visually showing energy use patterns directly to consumers, even if only aggregate, dated, or somewhat inprecise figures are provided. Additional reference materials were provided to the committee as a handout (Attachment B). Representative McNulty responded to Ms. Fosmire's testimony. Representative McNulty agreed that such utility bill information may be useful, but could be outweighed by excessive administrative costs. Ms. Fosmire responded that consumers may consider potential behavior modifications when provided with new information.
03:55 PM -- Mr. Tim Rehder, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Rehder cited information that people are generally not knowledgeable that buildings and houses are sources of greenhouse gases, and that energy usage statements would have a positive impact. He said that he sees little value in real time figure and that an annual calculation would be more helpful. Supporting materials were distributed to the committee on annual output emission rates (Attachment C). Mr. Rehder responded to questions from Representative Frangas about capturing usage information and annual averages. Representative Primavera expressed possible reservations with the bill and its ability to change behavior. Mr. Rehder responded that there is no good figure for determining usage. Representative Primavera followed up with a question about propane usage. Mr. Rehder responded that propane use could be calculated. Representative Fischer asked if it would be beneficial to compare carbon usage with other households or similar buildings. Mr. Rehder stated that a comparison could be very useful and may be worthy of an amendment.
04:09 PM -- Ms. Nancy LaPlaca, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. LaPlaca stated that coal-fired plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide. She further indicated that Colorado electricity is 65 to 80 percent powered by coal. As a product, consumers would be interested to know facts as to what they are consuming. Ms. LaPlaca cited examples of coal waste and other environmental hazard related health impacts, and stated that consumers should be given easy-to-read, visual data to understand energy usage.
04:15 PM -- Representative Green stated that she would wait to offer amendments until a later date.