Governor’s Energy Office bill ready for Hickenlooper’s signature

DENVER – A bill that would alter the mission of the Governor’s Energy Office is headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper after unanimously passing the state Senate on Wednesday.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, and state Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, would require the agency to support all forms of energy instead of just renewable energy. It passed the Senate by a unanimous vote of 35-0 on Wednesday night.

“It is an enormous bill for Colorado,” Becker said. “There are other states that are already calling to see what this legislation looks like so that they can have a balanced energy office.”

The bill would modify the energy office’s mission to promote “Colorado-based clean and innovative energy solutions that include traditional and renewable energy sources.” The measure also would rename the office to the “Colorado Office of Energy Development” while deleting former Gov. Bill Ritter’s catchphrase “New Energy Economy” from current law.

Becker believes Hickenlooper will sign the bill because Becker worked closely on the measure with Tracee Bentley, associate director for policy and legislation at the Governor’s Energy Office.

“The administration was backing it,” Becker said.

The bill also would change the way renewable and fossil fuels projects receive funding. State severance tax dollars would fund traditional energy projects while renewable projects would depend on general fund dollars.

In 2007, Ritter changed the name of the Office of Energy Management and Conservation, founded in 1977, to the Governor’s Energy Office. He also shifted the agency’s mission from promoting energy conservation to renewable energy.

Opponents of the bill argue that it would impede renewable energy development. Supporters contend that oil and gas severance tax revenue should not back renewable energy.

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