Bill to protect consumers, tackle high utility bills passes Senate

SB23-291 heads to the Colorado House. It will reduce reliance on volatile and risky gas to heat and power homes and businesses.

Wikimedia Commons, RadRafe Photographer | Public Domain

The Colorado State Senate voted 21-13 to approve SB23-291, a measure that will add new consumer protections aimed at the main causes of the volatile, high utility bills Coloradans faced this winter.

Senate President Steve Fenberg and Senator Lisa Cutter introduced the bill after weeks of expert testimony before the Colorado Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates.

After gas prices spiked 40% this winter, driving the surge in Coloradans’ utility bills, the policy focuses on protecting consumers of investor-owned utilities from volatile and risky gas in the following ways:

  • Reducing unnecessary expenses ratepayers can be billed for including utility lobbying, brand advertising and tax penalties
  • Increasing transparency around proposed gas rates
  • Eliminating wasteful ratepayer subsidies that extend gas reliance to new buildings. In testimony, the Utility Consumer Advocate estimated the subsidies cost $1,000 per home.
  • Requiring a set of new rulemakings at the Public Utilities Commission to ensure:
    consumers will not be on the hook for new gas expenses that become underutilized or stranded; utility incentives are better aligned to reward reducing exposure to volatile gas; utilities are better incentivized to reduce waste and find efficiencies that save consumers money.

The bill heads to the House where Speaker Pro Tempore Chris deGruy Kennedy and Representative Matthew Martinez will have less than two weeks to get it through before the session ends.

CoPIRG calls for quick passage of the bill. We have the technology to save people money by increasing efficiencies in the grid, eliminating waste and switching to safer, renewable fuels instead of riskier, volatile gas.


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