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Colorado Lawmakers End Session with Few Energy Bills

In a session marked by few energy bills making it through, the Colorado legislature called it a session earlier in May with the most significant oil/gas industry item passed being a technical bill for implementing the state plan for lessening haze (HB 1291).

While the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) considered HB 1291 one of its priorities for the session, which ended May 11, the state's major energy utility, Xcel Energy's Public Service Company of Colorado, sees it more as a procedural, technical bill for implementing the haze mitigation part of the state's landmark Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act (HB 1365) passed last year with broad-based support.

For HB 1291, COGA again praised the bipartisan and wide stakeholder support for the measure, including environmental and industry groups.

However, a Denver-based Xcel utility spokesperson told NGI the support for the technical bill on haze does not eliminate the real possibility that there will be legal challenges to the Clean Air, Clean Jobs law from the coal industry or other stakeholders. The law definitely favors natural gas-fired generation over coal (see Daily GPI, April 20, 2010).

The Colorado Mining Association and Peabody Energy, which has a coal mine near Oak Creek, CO, opposed Xcel's implementation plan approved late last year by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Xcel officials have reiterated that they will work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit a plan to the PUC by Aug. 15 that details how the utility will retire or retrofit 900 MW of coal-fired capacity as called for in the Clean Air, Clean Jobs law.

HB 1291 basically just codifies what the PUC had already approved in terms of the state's haze program, the Xcel spokesperson said.

In dealing with state and federal air quality regulations, COGA has taken the position that "no industry in Colorado has done more to reduce emissions and the formation of ozone than the oil and gas industry."

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