Colorado Unbundling Bill Awaits House Vote
Legislation prescribing voluntary unbundling of Colorado's gas
distribution industry has now gone to a state House appropriations
committee. The sponsor of SB 153, Sen. David T. Owen, said he
expects it to pass with little or no trouble. Unlike legislation
that unbundled Georgia's gas industry, the Colorado legislation
does not delve into specifics of unbundling but rather leaves them
up to the state Public Utility Commission (PUC).
"Our perspective on the legislation is we're in favor of it,"
said Public Service of Colorado spokesman Mark Salley. "We think
it's good. It's a continuation of a gas deregulation effort last
year that we supported." He said he did not know when Public
Service would choose to open its system to competition. When asked
whether there was anything about the legislation the company did
not like, Salley said he didn't know of anything and said the bill
has "a reasonable balance."
However, potentially contentious issues, such as capacity
assignment, provider of last resort and whether LDCs should be
forced to exit the merchant function, will have to be hammered out
by the PUC. One concern that was dealt with in the Senate was a
provision that would allow some municipal utilities to keep from
public eyes information deemed to be sensitive from a competitive
standpoint. The bill was amended to require a public hearing to
determine which municipal utility records could be closed.
Opposition to closing municipality records from public view comes
from those who say they benefit from tax breaks and low-interest
loans at the public's expense.
The Colorado legislative session closes at the end of May.
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