June 3, 2013

Snowmass Senator's Clean Energy Bills Become Law

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two clean energy bills into law Tuesday that Colorado Sen. Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village co-sponsored.

The first bill, SB 13-212, is designed to create clean energy and construction jobs, help Coloradans save on their energy bills, and reduce air pollution. It creates the opportunity for new energy conservation and renewable energy financing options for commercial property owners. Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, co-sponsored along with Sen. Schwartz.
“In this time of limited financial resources, Senate Bill 212 requires no state money. The small businesses that participate will help us create clean tech and construction jobs while they save money on utility bills, improve their property, and reduce air pollution,” said Sen. Matt Jones. 

The bill builds on earlier legislation allowing Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs at the local level. Boulder County’s successful “ClimateSmart” program is an example of a PACE program. PACE programs use an independent district to sell bonds and loan the proceeds to property owners, who could then install energy-related upgrades immediately and pay back using energy savings over time. Payments are made along with their property tax bill. Energy efficiency and renewable energy options, such as solar, qualify under the program, dubbed CPACE.  

The second bill Hickenlooper signed into law yesterday, HB 13-1105, sets standards for the Colorado Energy Saving Mortgage program, which administers financing for people purchasing energy-efficient homes or home improvements to increase energy efficiency. Sen. Schwartz, a Democrat, carried the bill in the Senate. Sen. Jones is a co-sponsor.

Under HB 13-1105, the property’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score would help determine the maximum mortgage value. The lower the HERS score, the more energy-efficient the home is. For new homes with a HERS score of zero, the maximum value of the mortgage would be $8,000. For new homes with a higher HERS score, or for home improvements, the Colorado Energy Office would determine the maximum mortgage value. 

Over the past two years, an existing Energy Star mortgage program has provided 188 energy-related mortgages. The programs provide financial incentives for people to purchase energy-efficient homes, and the state will partner with utilities and private lenders under HB 13-1105 to establish an incentive pool of an expected $1 million or more.

“CPACE and Energy Savings Mortgage Program are critical new tools that Coloradans can use to make our buildings more efficient and cut down on utility bills," Schwartz said. "These programs have great support from the construction and financial sectors, as we continue to work together to keep Colorado at the forefront of renewable energy, clean tech and energy efficiency policy nationally.” 

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