2021 PUC Legislative Implementation

2021 Legislative Implementation Banner
In 2021, the Colorado Legislature passed many bills that impact the work of the Public Utilities Commission and the utilities that we regulate.  The PUC will conduct investigations, rulemakings, adjudicatory proceedings and other actions to implement the requirements of the various bills. From this page you can track the progress of PUC implementation of those and other 2021 legislative changes.

Bill Description: Concerning Utility Customers’ Financial Contributions for Low-Income Utility Assistance.

Bill Description: Concerning Transparency of Penal Communications Service Providers in Correctional Facilities.

Bill Description: Concerning the Modernization of Gas Energy Efficiency Programs.

Bill Description: Concerning the Protection of Critical Services through the Creation of Sustainable Medicaid Transportation Safety Requirements.

Bill Description: Concerning Efforts to Redress the Effects of Environmental Injustice on Disproportionately Impacted Communities.

Bill Description: Concerning an Investigation by the Public Utilities Commission to Evaluate the Parameters of an Energy Policy Allowing Communities in Colorado that are Served by an Investor-Owned Electric Utility to Choose Alternative Wholesale Electricity Suppliers.

Bill Description: Concerning Measures to Address Consumer Protection Concerns regarding Vehicle Towing.

Bill Description: Concerning Gas Pipeline Safety, and, Increasing and Clarifying the Rulemaking and Enforcement Authority of the Public Utilities Commission.

Bill Description: Concerning the Implementation of 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network in Colorado.

Bill Description: Concerning Measures to Encourage Beneficial Electrification, and, Directing the Public Utilities Commission and Colorado Utilties to Promote Compliance with Current Environmental and Labor Standards.

Bill Description: Concerning the Sustainability of the Transportation System in Colorado and Creating New Sources of Dedicated Funding and New State Enterprises.

Bill Description: Concerning Measures to Increase the Deployment of Renewable Energy Generation Facilities to Meet Colorado’s Energy Needs, and, Raising the Allowable Capacity of Customer-Sited Renewable Energy Generation Facilities, Giving Customers Additional Options for Increasing the Scale and Flexibility of New Installations.

Bill Description: Concerning the Adoption of Programs by Gas Utilities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Bill Description: Concerning the Operations of the Public Utilities Commission, and, Modernizing the Commission’s Statutory Directives Regarding Distributed Generation of Electricity; Requiring Additional Disclosure from Intervenors in Adversarial Proceedings; and Providing the Commissioners with Access to Independent Subject-Matter Experts.

Senate Bill 21-272

Senate Bill (SB) 21-272 creates new directives for the Commission related to equity. Specifically, the legislation explains that:

  • “The Commission shall promulgate rules requiring that the Commission, in all of its work including its review of all filings and its determination of all adjudications, consider how best to provide equity, minimize impacts, and prioritize benefits to disproportionately impacted communities and address historical inequalities”;

  • The Commission “in exercising its regulatory authority, will take account of and, where possible, help to correct these historical inequities,” which are described as disproportionate environmental burdens, fewer environmental benefits, and exclusion from decision-making;

  • “When making decisions relating to retail customer programs, the Commission shall host informational meetings, workshops, and hearings that invite input from disproportionately impacted communities. . .”; and

  • The Commission “shall ensure, to the extent reasonably possible, that such programs, including any associated incentives and other relevant investments, include floor expenditures, set aside as equity budgets, to ensure that low-income customers and disproportionately impacted communities will have at least proportionate access to the benefits of programs, incentives, and investments.”

Disproportionately Impacted (DI) Communities

SB 21-272 provides a definition of DI communities at C.R.S. § 40-2-108. DI communities are also defined by HB 21-1266, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is leading the development of two tools that may be useful to multiple state agencies, including the Commission, to understand where DI communities are located in Colorado. These tools include the Climate Equity Data Viewer (BETA) and a Colorado EnviroScreen tool, which is under development.

Defining Equity

The legislation does not specifically define equity. While we anticipate significant opportunities for public engagement to refine how we implement this legislation, as a starting point, we have identified some options for defining and measuring equity.

The State of Colorado Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Universal Policy defines equity as follows:

When everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has the opportunity to thrive. Equity recognizes that some individuals have an advantage because of their identity, while others face barriers. Unlike equality, which suggests giving the same thing to everyone, equity works to provide opportunities to those facing barriers by providing additional resources to those who do not have these advantages. This requires eliminating barriers like poverty and repairing systemic injustices.

Equity may be measured across multiple dimensions. Common dimensions for measuring equity outcomes include procedural equity (how we make proceedings accessible and engage the public and stakeholders) and distributional equity (how benefits and burdens are distributed). Staff’s September 15, 2021 presentation identifies an initial, high-level framework for thinking about how to measure equity outcomes in the context of SB 21-272.

Commission Activities

The Commission is in the process of developing a work plan for this legislation. Commission Staff provided a progress update at the September 15, 2021 weekly meeting. The slide presentation is available here and a video recording can be viewed here (starts at minute 28).

Several activities are underway, including:

  • Learning from commissions in other states that are considering how to provide equity;

  • Forming an internal working group to increase agency-wide understanding of SB 21-272; and

  • Identifying opportunities for public and stakeholder engagement.

The Commission will also participate in the Environmental Justice Action Task Force facilitated by CDPHE pursuant to HB 21-1266. We are required to promulgate rules, but do not anticipate opening a formal rulemaking until mid-2022. We look forward to speaking with stakeholders and the public in other venues prior to that rulemaking.

Questions regarding SB21-272 can be sent to PUC_SB272Equity@state.co.us. Individual proceedings can be located via the PUC EFilings System. Please visit the PUC Comment Wizard to file a comment to the PUC.