Homeowners and businesses in Colorado will have more help in coping with the upfront costs of renewable energy and efficiency projects, thanks to a new law. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill last week that should allow more people in the state to obtain financing for clean energy projects.
Senate Bill 100 was sponsored by Senator Gail Schwartz and Representative Joe Miklosi. The bill strengthens a measure adopted in 2008, which allowed local districts to offer financing for energy improvements. Under the latest measure, local districts will be able to team up to offer energy financing programs. Senate Bill 100 effectively allowed district financing programs to cross county borders, clearing the way for counties to work together – particularly where they might be too small to operate financing programs alone.
Gov. Ritter said the bill was a “powerful tool” to help people reduce energy bills and promote local clean energy companies, as well as helping Colorado reach its energy targets. He said: “Without the changes proposed in SB 100, it will be extremely difficult for Colorado’s smaller counties to offer this financing tool, denying their home and business owners access to the benefits this tool provides.”
Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards said the bill would be a “big step” for rural counties in taking clean energy “out of newspaper headlines and putting it to work in local neighborhoods”. Commissioner Richards said of the bill: “It helps empower county governments to empower our citizens to lower their energy consumption and their energy bills – all while helping to put their own neighbors, in the hard-hit construction trades, back to work.”
Separately last week, Colorado’s Senate approved another bill from Senator Schwartz, which will allow the state to qualify for Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds to fund energy improvement projects. The Bill made a slight change to state procedures to allow use of the Bonds, which would provide federal funds via the Recovery Act for local governments across Colorado.
The bonds can be used to fund energy conservation projects, with the federal government picking up 70% or more of the interest. “As Colorado continues to expand our renewable energy sector, we must address the evolving needs of consumers and local communities,” said Sen. Schwartz. “Voters in Colorado continue to approve programs to finance affordable energy improvements to their homes.”