New Colorado law takes aim at modernizing distribution system

May 24, 2024 | by

New Colorado law takes aim at modernizing distribution system

(Image by lebone from Pixabay)

New Colorado legislation introduces a suite of policy changes aimed at modernizing its local electric grid, ensuring proactive investments, and promoting the adoption of clean energy technologies.

Governor Polis has signed into law SB24-218–The Modernize Energy Distribution Systems Act (Powering Up Colorado), which is meant to advance the capabilities of the state’s electric distribution system.

“As more Coloradans choose cost-saving clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, our utilities must be able to quickly connect them to a safe and reliable distribution grid,” said Colorado Energy Office executive director Will Toor. “This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure that the power grid keeps up with our efforts to protect the climate, improve air quality, and lower energy costs for Coloradans across the state.”

This legislation is also meant to help home and business owners connect planned clean energy projects by avoiding grid shortages, which could assist in unlocking more than 300 MW currently on hold.

“With the Governor’s signature, dozens of projects will move from the waitlist toward interconnection,” said Mike Kruger, president and CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, “which means more clean energy, more clean air, and more customer control of their utility bills.”

To accommodate more renewable energy and battery storage on the grid, the bill aims to strengthen distribution system planning (DSP) by encouraging long-term infrastructure improvements by tying the utility’s DSPs directly to cost recovery. Utilities will further be required to prioritize investments in income-qualified or disproportionately impacted communities with residential capacity constraints.

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“This law is a critical step forward for Colorado to remain the leader in the West for distribution system planning,” said Sara Birmingham, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Neighboring states should take notice of Colorado’s thoughtful approach in developing this framework, which provides critical resources for utilities, decreases interconnection wait times, and creates opportunities for new solar and storage development across the state.”

“The Powering Up Colorado law provides both a near and long-term framework to transform the distribution system into one that will meet customer needs more quickly with a wide range of electrification and other low-emission technologies – all while keeping bills low,” added Robert Kenney, president of Xcel Energy-Colorado. “We appreciate the legislators and the broad coalition of stakeholders, all with diverse interests, who recognize the local grid’s role in meeting Colorado’s clean energy goals while addressing the planning, investments, and workforce necessary to make this policy a reality. We look forward to implementing this landmark legislation and advancing the grid of the future.”


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