DENVER (KDVR) — It is crunch time at the Capitol as state lawmakers inch closer and closer to the end of this year’s legislative session. Before that happens, one group of stakeholders is urging lawmakers not to forget about a key issue impacting most Coloradans.
Community members who had high bills this past winter know those utility prices may not be top of mind with the nice weather we are having this week, but they called on lawmakers to continue making this a priority.
Community groups, everyday Coloradans and leaders urged state lawmakers to take up legislation to lower utility costs before lawmakers finish in May. Community leaders like Topazz McBride hope no one else experiences what Restoration Christian Fellowship did with the high cost.
“We have places for the unhoused and we have approximately 60 pallet homes on our property. And our bill increased from $2,500 last year to $10,000,” said McBride.
She said the City of Aurora partnered with the church to reimburse some of the utility costs but she is concerned about other people and small businesses in the community who do not have access to that kind of partnership.
The concerns are shared by groups like COPIRG, whose executive director, Danny Katz, said there’s one culprit lawmakers should target.
“The huge skyrocket that we saw in our utility bills is just totally unacceptable,” Katz said. “The thing that is fueling our rising utility bills is gas. We saw gas prices skyrocket, we know that gas is volatile, it’s also expensive. It’s a dangerous substance so it takes a lot of money to make sure we have the infrastructure to transport it safely, and even then we see leaks and explosions.”
Lawmakers from the joint committee on utility rates said they are listening and solutions are on the way.
“We’re hoping to introduce a piece of legislation next week that is going to do a few big things. First of all, it’s going to be taking away some of those profits motives to be building out gas infrastructure that we do not need in Colorado.
“Second of all, one of the things we saw last fall when the commodity markets fluctuated, we saw these high gas prices, the utilities just passed those all through to consumers; they had no incentive whatsoever to look for more affordable or greener alternatives to just passing through those gas costs. We’re going to make sure that the shareholders have some skin in the game in those commodity market fluctuations so it’s not all born by the ratepayers,” House Speaker Pro Tempore Chris deGruy Kennedy said.
He continued, “And the third big thing we are going to be doing this session is we’re going to be making sure that the cost recovery that the utilities get for things like advertising, lobbying, and the legal expenses they incur for the purpose of fighting for higher rates are not all born by the ratepayers.”
With just a few weeks left, lawmakers acknowledge getting this proposal passed will be a heavy lift but they know this is an issue Coloradans want to see addressed soon.