Gov. Bill Ritter today completed a triumphant and historic legislative session by signing a final package of bills that solidifies Colorado's standing as a national leader in the New Energy Economy. Gov. Ritter visited the Veterans Green Jobs workforce training facility in Denver for the signing ceremony.
Accompanied by lawmakers, business owners and clean-energy pioneers, Gov. Ritter praised the strong partnerships and innovative projects that are making Colorado a hub for the New Energy Economy. He thanked lawmakers for helping to push through 16 ambitious bills during this legislative session that are taking Colorado's energy work to new frontiers.
"Since taking office in 2007, we have charged forward with a bold and ambitious agenda to make Colorado a national leader in the New Energy Economy," Gov. Ritter said. "In less than four years, we have passed nearly 60 New Energy Economy bills that are sowing the seeds for a vibrant and sustainable future. We are creating jobs, attracting companies, reducing energy consumption and advancing high-tech projects that will continue to bear fruit for decades to come.
"This year, we passed the landmark, first-in-the-country Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which will reduce climate-warming emissions from coal and create a greater role for cleaner, home-grown natural gas. We increased the renewable energy requirement to 30 percent by 2020, and we passed a host of measures that will help clean-tech businesses thrive.
"Today, Colorado is at the leading edge of a clean-energy revolution."
State Sen. Gail Schwartz has been a leading supporter of the New Energy Economy and sponsored several of the bills signed into law today by Gov. Ritter.
"Thanks to our commitment to Colorado's New Energy Economy, this state is the best place for renewable energy in the country," Sen. Schwartz said. "Thousands of green jobs have already been created, and demand for skilled workers is building. We are working to ensure these growing industries have the workforce needed. I'm proud of all the work that we have done since I first took office four years ago. There is still a lot to accomplish, but these bills bring us closer to our goals and help position Colorado for a strong recovery with tools of the future."
The New Energy Economy bills signed today are:
House Bill 1333 (Vigil/Schwartz & Newell) provides grants to community colleges, vocational schools and other training providers to develop clean energy job training programs.
"By creating this partnership for green job training, we can help people who might have lost their jobs and need to be trained in new skills," Rep. Ed Vigil said. "We can help put folks back to work in growing sectors of our economy. Importantly, we are responding to the needs and requests of the renewable energy industry. That's good for people who need work today and good for the green businesses that want to hire trained Coloradans tomorrow."
"The renewable energy industry provides good-paying jobs for workers in Colorado," Sen. Linda Newell said. "This bill will help people acquire skills for those jobs and strengthen our state's workforce to keep us competitive. I'm proud to be a part of it."
House Bill 1328 (Miklosi/Schwartz) creates a statewide New Energy Improvement District to promote and finance Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, thereby providing scalability that cannot be easily achieved with a county-by-county approach. A county must opt-into the district before its residents can participate in the program.
"I am confident that this will help the state create jobs and empower homeowners to participate in our fastest growing economic sector -- the New Energy Economy," Rep. Joe Miklosi said.
Senate Bill 180 (Williams/A. Kerr) creates an 11-member task force to gather information and report to the legislature and Colorado Public Utilities Commission on issues related to the implementation of a smart energy grid in Colorado.
House Bill 1098 (Levy/Hodge) provides for more transparency in rural electric cooperative association governance and fairness in elections at these organizations.
"Members of rural electric associations deserve to have a real voice in decisions made by their utility. Too often, members who advocate for more renewable energy and energy efficiency programs have been shut out by old guard board members who are resistant to change. House Bill 1098 will open up the election process for the board of directors, and will allow REA members to provide input to board members as they make important decisions about their energy sources," Rep. Claire Levy said.
House Bill 1267 (A. Kerr/Romer) allows third-party independently-owned residential solar facilities to be exempt from property tax, putting them on an even playing field with homeowner-owned systems with regard to property tax exemption.