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Quick Hits 5/20/08

Gov. Bill Ritter yesterday marked the transition from a coal to a geo-exchange and woody biomass heating system for schools in Oak Creek, CO. The old coal heating system was one of the last of its kind in a school in Colorado. The woody biomass will be provided from wood pellets that came from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is providing $625,000 and the Colorado Department of Education is providing $1.5 million toward the overall project cost of $4.1 million. The project also includes the installation of additional energy efficiency and conservation components, such as new lighting. 977 fewer tons of carbon-dioxide will be emitted each year.

Gov. Ritter testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding oil shale development last week. He renewed his call for continuing and completing the current research, development and demonstration process before the federal government issues commercial oil shale leases or publishes rules and regulations governing commercial oil shale development.

One barrel of light crude oil is now trading at $129.15, up $2.10 from yesterday.

As Colorado’s legislative session drew to a close, Gov. Ritter pointed out the following bills as noteworthy in the energy arena:

Homegrown Energy/ Net Metering – HB08-1160, cosponsored by Solano/Shaffer and Isgar

Utility Scale Solar Energy – HB08-1164, cosponsored by Solano/Schwartz

Go Green – HB08-1350, cosponsored by Buescher and Pommer/Keller and Morse

Low Income Energy Assistance – HB08-1387, cosponsored by Buescher/Veiga

Homeowner Association Energy Efficiency Measures – HB08-1270

Increase Energy Efficiency in State Buildings – SB08-147, cosponsored by Gordon/Hodge

Colorado Clean Energy Finance Program – SB08-184, cosponsored by Romer/Levy

Any of these are far better than what Republicans have accomplished recently: drilling more and issuing billions in corporate welfare hasn’t improved our energy portfolio or made this country safer. Thank goodness responsible adults have been in charge.

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Catching Up: CO Legislature Update

I’ve been busy preparing for another work trip out of town. But things don’t stop happening. The next couple posts will be a collection of things that caught my eye.

CO Legislature & Bills Update

Plenty of things happening under the dome. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB08-1269, which would help reduce the threat of devastating wildfires in Colorado‚Äôs forests by providing incentives for products that use timber killed by the bark beetle infestation. The bill was sponsored by Senator Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne). I’ve detailed efforts to battle the mountain pine beetle in previous posts. Two solutions include treating the trees with insecticide and chopping up afflicted trees. It’s more expensive to cut down and chop up the trees. It might prove more hazardous to the long-term health of the ecosystem to use insecticide.

On Wednesday Governor Ritter signed HB08-1160 (more details here), which will expand homegrown energy opportunities for agricultural producers and rural communities statewide.

The science building at Auraria in Denver had funding renewed this week. Revenue from federal mining leases will be used to purchase Certificates of Participation in order to accelerate capital construction projects. The state is facing a backlog of projects as it continues to suffer under the effects of TABOR and other budgetary limitations, brought about by anti-investment zealots.

The CO House passed the 2008-2009 budget bill. If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, 55,000 more children will have health care and $63 million will be made available to Coloradans looking to go to college. Republicans thought those items, and more, weren’t a good idea and voted against the bill. By the way, the budget remains balanced under Democratic leadership.