Eye on the Legislature

March 13, 2017

Sometimes the local politicians and their antics overshadow their fellow politicians on the national scene, but this year, the Washington goings on are making Colorado’s local happenings almost boring. This new President is like none other, and is showing the country just how to get things done. We shall all see!!

Senate Bill 17-145:  Modifications to the electric utility resource acquisition process in pursuit of a more resilient, reliable and cost-effective electrical grid is the subject of SB 145.

SB 145 requires investor-owned utilities and cooperative electric associations to create distributed energy resources plans. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Distributed energy resources are small-scale power sources that can be combined to diversify the electrical grid to protect it from disruptions.”

Additional requirement in SB 145 is that each utility must integrate distributed energy resources planning into its five-year infrastructure acquisition plan. Each plan must be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission for review by June 1, 2018, and once approved, the utility’s expenditures for energy distribution infrastructure must be considered at its next general rate case.

The Colorado General Assembly’s declaration as to the necessity for SB 145 included these points: 

  1. Colorado’s economy, as well as health and safety of its residents, depends on the reliable and efficient supply of electricity;
  2. The threat of interruptions to the electric supply due to weather, malicious interference, or malfunctions in generation and transmission facilities makes distributed energy resources an important part of a robust resilient electrical grid;
  3. A transparent distribution grid planning process, which includes development of a map that publicly displays optimal locations for the safe installation of additional distributed energy resources, will lower costs for Colorado ratepayers;
  4. Electric utilities in many states, including California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York are proactively planning their distribution grids for greater penetrations of distributed energy resources; and
  5. In Minnesota, Xcel Energy has recognized that the capacity to incorporate distributed energy resources is a key element in the future of distribution system planning and has provided preliminary hosting capacity results for more than one thousand sources of distributed energy.

   As background, Colorado currently has two investor-owned, rate-regulated electric utilities operating in the state – Xcel Energy and Black Hills Colorado Electric, and both are required to submit electric resource plans to the PUC,

Colorado also has cooperative electric associations which are nonprofit electric utility companies that are owned and controlled by their members, and are not subject to PUC review and approval of integrated resource plans because these organizations have exempted themselves from PUC regulation since early in the 1980s.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-145:  Senator Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder) 866-4872. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 17-182:  Concerning damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident when uninsured motorist insurance may cover the same damages, SB 182 will clarify that an an “insurer is not required to reimburse a policyholder for an amount that exceeds actual damages caused during a collision covered by an uninsured or under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage policy.”

In short, the maximum liability of the insurer is the lesser of:

  1. the difference between the limit of the uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage policy and the amount paid to the insured by or for any person or organization who may be held legally liable for the bodily injury, or
  2. the amount of damages sustained but not recovered.

   If passed and enacted, SB 183 will allow a UM/UIM policy to contain provisions that prohibit stacking the limits of more than one policy, with exceptions. The Colorado Insurance Commissioner in the Department of Regulatory Agencies “must accept policies that prohibit stacking the limits of more than one UM/UIM coverage policy.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-182:  Senator Bob Gardner (R-El Paso) 866-4880; and Senator Patrick Neville (R-Douglas) 866-5523.

House Bill 17-1064: Juveniles may want to think twice if HB 1064 is passed and enacted. A new crime is created by HB 1064 for the misuse of electronic images by a juvenile if:

  1. the juvenile distributes, displays, or publishes a nude or partially nude digital photo of himself or herself or anther youth who is within four years of age; or
  2. knowingly possesses a nude or partially nude digital photo of another youth who is within four years of age of the charged juvenile.

   HB 1064 does allow for an affirmative defense to such a crime “if it occurred as a result of coercion, intimidation, or harassment; or if the recipient of the image did not solicit or request the image, did not participate in or encourage the making of it, did not transmit or distribute it, and took reasonable steps to either destroy, delete, or report the image to authorities within 72 hours.”

Under Colorado’s current law, juveniles sending sexually explicit images of themselves or other juveniles may be charged with two crimes:  1) sexual exploitation of a child; or 2) Criminal invasion of privacy.

Over the past three years, there have been 28 juvenile delinquency convictions for the crime of sexual exploitation of a child. For the crime of criminal invasion of privacy, there have been 15 convictions in juvenile delinquency cases.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1064:  Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Delta, Mesa) 866-2583; and Senator Rhonda Fields (D-Arapahoe) 866-487.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.