Co-op Reform & Emissions Reductions Bills in the Colorado Legislature

This blog series covers the monthly La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors meetings. We’re tracking the board for transparency and accountability, as well as to stay current on their renewable energy initiatives. Find past and future spotlights here.

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Two major bills are pending in the Colorado Legislature right now that would have big impacts on both governance at our local electric cooperatives and clean air across the state! Read on for details on both bills:

Colorado Co-op Transparency:

HB 21-1131 is a sweeping Colorado co-op democracy reform bill that aims to achieve major transparency reforms both at Tri-State and rural electric co-ops (like LPEA and EEA!) across the state. The bill passed the Colorado House and is currently in committee hearings in the Senate!

This bill closes existing loopholes for small co-ops and generation and transmission companies, ensuring transparency and accountability for their member-owners. At LPEA and EEA, the co-ops are owned, funded and governed by member-owners (like us!) who rely on them for their power. Some co-op boards have the power to choose how to purchase, generate, and charge for the electricity the cooperative sells. These decisions affect the lives, health, and pocketbooks of the Coloradans that own and rely on them for energy. Current law requires many co-ops to hold public meetings when making decisions that determine how much people pay for their electricity and where it comes from. Others have voluntarily chosen to do so.

But G&Ts and co-ops with fewer than 25,000 members are currently exempt from this kind of transparency and other good governance requirements in statute, leaving member-owners in the dark when decisions are made about where their power comes from and how their rates are set. This bill would eliminate that exemption, and make current electric co-op governance and transparency laws applicable to G&Ts.

The bill would also:

  • Require electric co-ops to post information about their rates and net metering requirements to their websites, and to make financial audits available to members on request.
  • Require a co-op to adopt written policies concerning the compensation of board members and disclosures of conflicts of interest for board members.
  • Ensure board members are not required to give priority loyalty to any G&T above their duty of loyalty to their cooperative.

HB 21-1131 supports even more accountability by modernizing and clarifying election procedures for electric co-ops so that every member can easily and securely cast their vote for board members. The bill would:

  • Provide for co-ops to allow members to vote by secure electronic means.
  • Require co-ops to clearly notify members of who is eligible to vote and how to cast a ballot in a board election.

We’re keeping an eye on the bill as it progresses through the Legislature, so check back soon for updates!

Reducing Statewide Emissions

Another powerhouse bill, SB-200, has also been introduced this legislative session. This climate bill is aimed at both reducing greenhouse gases and increasing environmental justice, and will ensure the state meets sector-specific goals established in the Emissions Reduction Roadmap.

In 2019, Colorado passed strong greenhouse gas reductions goals, but right now there’s no accountability for the state to meet those goals. SB-200 would ensure actual accountability for meeting those climate goals. The bill will set strong, enforceable rules to limit pollution from the electricity, oil and gas, transportation, and building sectors and create the tools to engage and empower disproportionately impacted communities. This means better public health and more protection from the worst impacts of climate change–like wildfires, drought, and decreased snowpack–for Colorado’s communities.

We’re also tracking this bill, so keep your eyes open for any engagement opportunities and ways to make sure your voice can be heard!

UPCOMING MEETINGS:

Next LPEA Meetings:

April Board Meeting: Wednesday April 21st at via Zoom. Public comment at 9am.

Call or email your LPEA Board Directors.

(Hover over your neighborhood for contact information!)

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