State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



27.0Scored out of 50Updated 10/2019
State Government
Score: 5 out of 6
State Government Summary List All

Colorado offers several consumer incentives for energy efficiency, as well as PACE financing. The state government leads by example through an energy savings target in public facilities, benchmarking energy usage in state buildings, requiring energy-efficient fleets, and encouraging energy savings performance contracting. Researched focused on energy efficiency takes place at several institutions in the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for Colorado is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Coloradoand State Energy Office contacts. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here. In addition to the state-funded incentives on DSIRE and below, Colorado has enabled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and has one active program. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Colorado ENERGY STAR / Energy Saving Mortgage Program: The Energy Saving Mortgage Program incentivizes both the purchase of efficient homes and efficiency renovations in refinanced homes.  Home buyers can earn a credit of up to $8,000 on their mortgage for net-zero homes, or a percentage of that credit for homes scoring between a 50 and a zero on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Scale.  Renovations function similarly as home owners can earn up to $8,000 in incentives for efficiency retrofits to existing homes.

Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program: The program works to make achieving energy efficiency easy for Colorado producers by addressing barriers that prevent producers from investing in energy efficiency. The program brings existing resources and partners together while leveraging outside funding, creating a turnkey approach.

Colorado Residential Energy Upgrade (RENU) Loan Program: The RENU Loan program is a statewide residential loan program sponsored by the Colorado Energy Office in partnership with Elevations Credit Union. It provides low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Rates start at 2.75%. Terms from 3 to 15 years. Loans from $500 up to $35,000.

Last Updated: June 2018

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

The State of Colorado does not yet have carbon pricing policies in place.

At this time, neither the state nor the utilities track avoided GHG emissions through energy efficiency programs, and the utilities do not currently include emissions reductions within benefit-cost testing calculations.

Last Updated: July 2020

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Public Building Requirements List All

Executive Order D0011 07 ("Greening of State Government"), signed in 2007, charged State departments, agencies and offices to take a position of leadership in the by reducing state energy consumption. Specifically, the order set a goal that by fiscal year 2011-2012, state government achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption of state facilities below fiscal year 2005-2006 levels. Executive Order D 2015-013, signed in 2015, renews this goal and requires all state agencies and departments to reduce energy consumption per square foot by 2% annually and at least 12% by FY 2020, from a baseline of FY 2015. State agencies and departments are further directed to achieve an absolute reduction of energy consumption by 5% over the same time period. As part of the executive order, all agencies are required to use EnergyCAP, a utility management software, to monitor and manage utility use and costs. In addition, on an annual basis, each agency shall develop an energy management plan outlining progress from the previous year and setting out strategies to achieve the energy reduction goal for the upcoming year. This EO establishes a new Greening Government Leadership Council, tasked with supporting efforts to make government operations more sustainable. The Council consists of one representative from every state agency.

Executive Order D 005-05, signed in July 2005, requires all state government agencies and departments to adopt the LEED rating system for existing and new buildings to ensure reductions in energy use to the extent practical and cost effective. The executive order also requires an energy management program within state agencies to monitor and manage utility use and costs. Executive Order D2010-006 expanded this requirement, calling for all state buildings to track energy use, with the exception of higher-educational buildings due to their unique relationship with the state. Under this directive, agencies must provide details from tracking energy and water consumption to paper usage and reduction. K-12 schools are now subject to very high efficiency standards after the passage of SB 13-279 in 2013. The goal of this school efficiency bill is to create resource-efficient schools, which use 33% less energy and 32% less water that their conventional counterparts. 

Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) supports the tracking of energy use in public buildings through its Active Energy Management Program. The program has helped schools and public buildings save 10-30% of their energy use without retrofits. CLEER has assisted over 80 public buildings in western Colorado to track and manage their energy use.

The State of Colorado is in the process of setting one and five year goals in numerous areas including energy and water efficiency, petroleum reduction, environmentally preferable purchasing, and greenhouse gas emission reduction. The State is also developing directives for agencies and departments that ensure successful achievement of the goals. These include the requirement that all agencies prepare annual energy and water management plans and that energy performance contracting feasibility studies be performed for all state-owned buildings.

Colorado's High Performance Certification Program (HPCP) requires that buildings funded with state moneys or with moneys guaranteed or insured by the state where such moneys constitute at least 25 percent of the project cost achieve the highest performance certification attainable as certified by an independent third party pursuant to the high performance standard certification program. Colorado's Office of State Architect has approved the use of three different programs under this policy: U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design New Construction (USGBC LEED-NC) guideline with "Gold" as the targeted certification level; the Green Building Initiative (GBI), Green Globes guideline with "Three Globes" as the targeted certification level; and for the Colorado Department of Education, K-12 construction, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (US-CHPS) is an optional guideline with "Verified Leader" as the targeted certification level.

While State buildings are exempt from local ordinances, the State of Colorado buildings are voluntarily participating in Denver's recently passed ordinance on benchmarking and transparency. Starting in June 2018, all State buildings over 50,000 square feet in the City and County of Denver will voluntarily benchmark utility data using Portfolio Manager and make this information available to the public. In June 2018, the State will do the same for buildings over 25,000 square feet.

Executive Order D 2019 016, signed December 2019, amends and replaces Executive Order D 2018 026 concerning the Greening of State Government. This EO builds on the State's prior greening govenrment efforts, and establishes new goals and directives that will save taxpayers money and reduce the impact of State operations on the environment and public health, including:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% below 2014-15 levels by the end of fiscal year 2022-2023.
  • Reduce energy consumption per square foot by at least 15% by the end of fiscal year 2022-23.
  • Increase the percentage of renewable electricity by 5% by the end of 2022-23. That would come from state-owned renewable energy systems; renewable energy purchased through a power purchase agreement, or through a solar garden subscription; utility renewable energy purchase programs; and/or leased rooftop solar or other renewable energy installation.

Last Updated: July 2020

Fleets List All

Executive Order D 2015-013 directs all state agencies and departments to reduce average petroleum-based fuel consumption per vehicle by a minimum of 4% annually and at least 20% by 2020 from a baseline of 2015 or 2% annually and at least 10% by 2020 for Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol vehicles. Executive State agencies and departments shall further achieve an absolute reduction in petroleum-based fuel consumption by 15% or 7.5% for vehicles deemed exempt over the same time period.

In January 2018, the State released the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan. In addition to actions designed to build out high-speed corridor charging stations and accelerate adoption of EVs, there are multiple lead by example goals and strategies assigned to the State of Colorado. These include 200 EVs in the State fleet by 2020, creation of a workplace charging policy, development of a price agreement for EV charging stations, and improvements to the State’s vehicle procurement process that better facilitates purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. In April 2020, the State released an updated version of the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan. The fleet procurement goal was updated, requiring State agencies to purchase 375 EVs by January 2022, with a goal of electrifying all vehicles that have appropriate use cases by 2030.

Executive Order D 2019 016 directs all agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from State fleet vehicles by at least 15% by the end of FY 2022-23 from a baseline of FY 2014-15 or at least 7.5% by the end of FY 2022-23 for vehicles categorized as special use. The executive order further requires that all agencies priorize EVs for light duty applications.

Last Updated: July 2020

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

Since Colorado established its Energy Performance Contracting Program (EPC) in the mid-1990s, 156 public jurisdictions have worked with an energy services company (ESCO) to identify $28.7 million in annual utility savings through a technical energy audit. Because each technical energy audit is a high-quality, investment-grade audit, these guaranteed utility savings have been leveraged to attract $606 million in capital construction funds. As of December 31, 2019, 224 active and completed projects have improved the performance of public school and university buildings, veterans facilities, libraries, parks, state, municipal and county administrative buildings, community and recreation centers, courthouses, capitol buildings, wastewater treatment plants, prisons and other government buildings in communities across 75% of Colorado's counties

Last Updated: July 2020

Research & Development List All

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) conducted research to identify opportunities for energy savings in the marijuana growing industry and the industrial sector. Multiple industry-specific stakeholders and independent researchers contributed to the research reports.  Both the marijuana industry and others addressed the need for current energy use data to make informed decisions. The Colorado marijuana energy use research report will provide a cost-benefit calculator to help growers understand the financial benefits of incorporating energy efficient technologies into their operations and identify energy efficient operational strategies and technologies or energy efficiency supportive policies that are relevant and available to the industry.   

The Engines and Energy Conversion Lab (EECL) at Colorado State University conducts research on smart grid technology and engine efficiency, primarily in advanced ignition systems and after-treatment systems.

The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) at Colorado State University engages faculty and industry partners in healthy and sustainable building issues including energy efficient construction, integration of clean energy technologies and sustainable built environments.

The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) at the University of Colorado at Boulder is a joint institute with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with a mission to research and develop ways to produce energy at a lower cost, with higher efficiency, and with reduced emissions.

The Research in Delivery, Usage, and Control of Energy (ReDUCE) research group at the Colorado School of Mines includes energy efficiency projects such as the Cyber-Enabled Efficiency Energy Management of Structure (CEEMS), sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which conducts research on the sensing and control of energy flow in buildings, as enabled by cyber infrastructure.

The Center for Renewable Energy Economic Development (CREED) is a catalyst for economic development in Colorado through clean energy and energy efficiency innovation and entrepreneurship. Its stakeholders support the creation and growth of clean tech companies throughout the State of Colorado and represent economic development, academia, incubators, industry associations, and government. 

CREED is a product of National Renewable Energy (NREL) and partners with state government agencies such as the Colorado Energy Office and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and industry groups such as the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association. NREL consistently works with Colorado universities on energy efficiency projects and plays a role in a number of collaborations throughout the state.  Besides RASEI and CREED, NREL also partners with state universities as part of the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory, a research consortium that works with industry and public agencies to create and speed the commercialization of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency.

The Energy Research Collaboratory is a consortium of three state institutions of higher education the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Energy Research Collaboratory is a consortium of three state institutions of higher education the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 5.5 out of 8
Buildings Summary List All

Colorado is a home rule state with a voluntary building code for both residential and commercial construction, although there are minimum codes in place for jurisdictions that have adopted a code previously. As of June 2017, 67% of construction activity occurs in communities that have adopted the 2012 IECC or greater. Several local jurisdictions have strengthened their building energy codes by requiring electric vehicle readiness and net zero energy construction, among other green construction requirements.

In the 2019 House Bill 19-1260 on Building Energy Codes was signed. The bill requires local jurisdictions to adopt one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code at a minimum, upon updating any other building code, and encourages local jurisdictions to update the Colorado Energy Office on any changes to the jurisdictions' building and energy codes.

By January 1, 2020, every board of county commissioners and every governing body of a municipality which has enacted a building code shall report the current version of their codes to the Colorado Energy Office. Thereafter, every governing body of a municipality or county are encouraged to report any change in their building and energy codes to the Colorado Energy Office within a month of changing their codes. 

Residential Codes List All

The 2003 IECC is a mandatory minimum for jurisdictions that have adopted a code previously. Jurisdictions that have not adopted or enforced codes are exempt from the 2003 IECC requirement, although the 2012 IECC is mandatory for all factory-built and multi-family structures – commercial and residential – in areas that do not adopt or enforce buildings codes. The State of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control regulates the construction of health care and school facilities, and the 2015 IECC is mandatory for these specific construction types as well.

In the 2019 House Bill 19-1260 on Building Energy Codes was signed. The bill requires local jurisdictions to adopt one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code at a minimum, upon updating any other building code, and encourages local jurisdictions to update the Colorado Energy Office on any changes to the jurisdictions' building and energy codes.

As of June 2019, 76% of Colorado's population is on the 2012, 2015 or 2018 IECC.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Commercial Code List All

The 2003 IECC is a mandatory minimum for jurisdictions that have adopted a code previously. Jurisdictions that have not adopted or enforced codes are exempt from the 2003 IECC requirement, although the 2012 IECC is mandatory for all factory-built and multi-family structures – commercial and residential – in areas that do not adopt or enforce buildings codes. The State of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control regulates the construction of health care and school facilities, and the 2015 IECC is mandatory for these specific construction types as well. 

In the 2019 House Bill 19-1260 on Building Energy Codes was signed. The bill requires local jurisdictions to adopt one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code at a minimum, upon updating any other building code, and encourages local jurisdictions to update the Colorado Energy Office on any changes to the jurisdictions' building and energy codes.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: The state completed the Colorado Strategic Compliance Plan in November 2011 with the Colorado Energy Code Compliance Collaborative. The plan developed a model with a series of critical actions based on existing gaps to achieve 2009 code compliance in Colorado by 2017. Focus areas of the plan included: securing funding, promoting state and local policy, implementing outreach and training, and conducting compliance evaluation. Colorado continues to use this plan as a framework for addressing energy code adoption and compliance in Colorado.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: Baseline Compliance Study: In 2013, Colorado completed a statewide evaluation of energy code compliance. It found a rate of more than 90% compliance for residential construction, noting that more work could be done with HVAC systems. It also found that compliance with commercial codes was only 28%. In 2016, Colorado completed a commercial code compliance study to assess compliance for 2009 IECC. The Department of Energy requested that Colorado conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis to determine energy saved by complying with the code, as well as energy not saved due to non-compliance. Colorado received feedback from code officials and plan examiners noting that the commercial code is complex and time intensive. As a result, Colorado developed a simple methodology that looks at how buildings use energy and identified the top 15 code requirements that focus on high impact energy uses. Colorado is now administering trainings to jurisdictions and code officials on how to use this top 15 compliance checklist for the most effective use of time and effort.
  • Utility Involvement: Xcel Energy will provide $50,000 per calendar year in 2019 and 2020 to support code trainings within its electric and natural gas service territories. Xcel Energy also plans to conduct a study in 2019 to identify the potential for energy efficiency impacts associated with code trainings and potential product designs for future implementation. 
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: The Colorado Energy Code Compliance Collaborative is highly involved in building code compliance. The Collaborative's mission is to facilitate compliance with local energy codes and to coordinate energy code actions and policies throughout the state. The Collaborative was originally started and supported with funding from BCAP. Now, it is self-supporting and meets on a quarterly basis.
  • Training/Outreach: By statute, the Colorado Energy Office provides energy code education to builders, designers, engineers and architects. The CEO provides these services at no additional cost to local governments and stakeholders. The CEO provides in-depth, in-person trainings across the state as well as one-hour webinars taught by code experts on a variety of residential and commercial code topics. The Colorado Energy Office also provides technical assistance to local governments – again, at no additional cost – to help them adopt, implement, and enforce building energy codes.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Score: 0.5 out of 3
CHP Summary List All

Colorado has some policies in place to encourage CHP including supportive interconnection policies and net metering rules. No new CHP systems were installed in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Code of Colorado Regulations 723-3

Description: Modeled very closely on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) interconnection standard for small generators, Colorado’s interconnection standards are a product of its Renewable Energy Standard, adopted in 2005. Like the FERC standard, Colorado delineates three distinct tiers of interconnection to cover systems up to 10MW in size. CHP is explicitly eligible for interconnection under these standards. In the 2008, the Colorado House of Representatives enacted H.B. 1160, requiring municipal utilities to essentially adopt the PUC's interconnection rules.

The PUC adopted new rules for net metering in September 2009, as required by SB 51. The new rules made relaxed some of the insurance requirements for interconnection, and addressed utility concerns with highly seasonal circuits and voltage flicker.

Last Updated: July 2018

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Deployment IncentivesList All

Incentives, grants, or financing:  CHP may be eligible for loans or other assistance from the Colorado Energy Office. Xcel Energy offers incentives of approximately $11.91/MWh for the first ten years of production.

Net metering: Net metering rules apply to CHP in Colorado. Customer-generators are eligible for net metering in Colorado for retail renewable distributed generation, but different rules apply to investor-owned utilities (IOUs), municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. All utilities are subject to the rules (except small municipal utilities) and credit net excess generation on the customer's next bill at the retail rate.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies exist to encourage CHP in Colorado. The state encourages the use of renewable-fueled CHP systems and waste heat to power (WHP), which qualify under Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard.

In a December 2014 ruling, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved Public Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, to provide financial incentives to industrial facilities for WHP in Colorado. The ruling allows Xcel Energy to pay an incentive of about $500 per kilowatt of recycled energy over 10 years, thereby reducing the payback period on a company’s initial investment. Individual projects can be as large as 10 megawatts, and there is no minimum project size.

Colorado Energy Office has partnered with DOE's Upper-West CHP Technical Assistance Partnership to offer recycled energy and CHP no-cost feasibility assessments for a limited number of facilities and Susan Brodie of the Heat is Power Association on an outreach initiative to drive further recycled energy and CHP development in Colorado

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 9.5 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Colorado’s utilities administer a growing portfolio of energy efficiency programs with oversight by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The state enacted legislation in 2007 requiring the PUC to establish energy savings goals for gas and electric utilities (thereby creating an EERS) and to give investor-owned utilities a financial incentive for implementing cost-effective efficiency programs. Both Xcel Energy, and Black Hills Energy have expanded their demand-side management (DSM) programs in recent years. The utilities file DSM plans annually, and are working toward the most recent EERS targets which have ramped up to 1.68% in 2020. 

HB 1227, signed in June 2017, extends electric efficiency programs to 2028 and requires the commission to set goals of at least 5% peak demand reduction and 5% energy savings by 2028 for demand-side management programs implemented during 2019 through 2028 when compared to a 2018 baseline. There is no decoupling for electric or gas utilities. In 2018, the Commission ruled that, given its new savings goal, PSCo will begin to receive a performance incentive only upon reaching 80% of the goal, or at 400 GWh. There will be a disincentive offset of $3M that PSCo will earn in two installments; the first $1.5M will be given once PSCo reaches 400 GWh of savings (80% of goal), and the second $1.5M will be given when the company reaches 450 GWh of savings (90% of goal). Total incentives are capped at $18M. Colorado implemented natural gas programs in 2008. 

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last updated: July 2019

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Funding for energy efficiency has increased substantially in Colorado in recent years since the state adopted an EERS in 2007. Xcel Energy (operating as Public Service of Colorado (PSCo)) is the major investor-owned utility (IOU) in Colorado and administers its programs after they have been approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Xcel Energy’s programs are funded by a demand-side management cost adjustment mechanism rate rider. Black Hills Energy is the other IOU that serves electricity to customers in the state and generally follows Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency savings targets.

Natural gas programs are also available in Colorado. The 2007 state legislation required that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission set energy savings goals for natural gas, which are commensurate with spending targets of at least 0.5% of the prior year’s revenues.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

Energy efficiency is not included within the commission’s definition of a supply-side resource in the Rules Regulating Electric Utilities. However, in one of Public Service Company’s Electric Resource Plan filings, it appears that the commission required the company to modify its plan to include modeling for approved DSM programs (Docket No. 07A-447E, Decision No. C08-0929). House Bill 1164 requires the PUC to include the possible impacts of future greenhouse gas regulation on electricity prices when evaluating utility resource plans.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Electric: Starting in 2019, savings targets for PSCo are raised from 400 GWh to 500 GWh per year, or roughly 1.7% of sales. Natural Gas: Savings targets commensurate with spending targets (at least 0.5% of prior year’s revenue).  There are no efficiency program requirements for municipal utilities or rural electric cooperatives.

HB 1227, signed in June 2017, extends electric efficiency programs to 2028 and requires the commission to set goals of at least 5% peak demand reduction and 5% energy savings by 2028 for demand-side management programs implemented during 2019 through 2028 when compared to 2018 baseline.

The Colorado legislature passed HB-07-1037 in April 2007, which amended Colorado statutes C.R.S. 40-1-102 and 40-3.2-101-105 by requiring the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (COPUC) to establish energy savings goals for investor-owned electric and gas utilities. The EERS statute does not set a fixed schedule of statewide percentages of energy savings to be achieved by particular years, nor does it require the acquisition of all cost-effective energy efficiency resources. Instead, it set an overall multi-year statewide savings goal for investor-owned electric utilities of at least 5% of the utility's retail sales (and a 5% peak demand reduction) relative to a 2006 baseline to be met by the end of 2018. HB 1227 (June 2017) extended programs to 2028, requiring the commission to set goals of at least 5% peak demand reduction and 5% energy savings by 2028 for demand-side management programs implemented during 2019 through 2028 compared to a 2018 baseline. The statute includes a similar goal for reduction of peak demand of 5% of the retail system peak in 2006. 

For investor-owned natural gas utilities, the EERS legislation structured the requirement in two parts. First, the natural gas IOUs must set DSM spending targets of more than 0.5% of revenues from customers in the prior year. Energy savings targets are then established by COPUC commensurate with spending and are stated in terms of quantity of gas saved per dollar of efficiency program spending.

COPUC has modified targets several times since 2008 (see Docket No. 07A-420E, Decision C08-0560, Docket No. 08A-518E, Decision No. R09-0542). In May 2011, COPUC approved new goals for Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) for the 2012-2020 period. The goals begin at 1.14% of sales in 2012, ramping up to 1.35% in 2015, and reaching 1.68% in 2020. The goals set out to achieve 3,984 GWh in the nine-year period (see Docket No. 10A-554EG, Decision No. C11-0442). The Commission ruled in Proceeding No. 17A-0462EG that PSCo's goal for annual energy savings for 2019-2023 be 500 GWh, an increase from the goal of 400 GWh that had been in effect.

Last Updated: July 2019

Utility Business Model List All

All investor-owned natural gas utilities in Colorado recover lost revenues through an Acknowledgement of Lost Revenues (ALR) mechanism. The gas DSM rules were proposed in Proceeding No. 07R-371G and adopted in Decision No. C08-0248, which was issued on March 7, 2008. The ALR is only calculated for first-year savings. Electric utilities do not recover lost revenues. 

The 2009/10 Demand-Side Management (DSM) Plan was intended to remove disincentives to efficiency, offset revenue and earnings erosion, and reward utility performance, among other things, for the Public Service Company of Colorado. The PUC indicated that it is not appropriate and likely not feasible to define in a docket the lost margins resulting from DSM. Instead, it addressed the financial disincentives of DSM with a fixed payment of $2 million after taxes (approximately 3.2. million gross) for each year that 80% of the annual energy savings goal for an approved DSM plan is achieved, with the option that the offset could be adjusted downward in the case that the 80% target is not achieved. This amount is recovered over the 12-month period following the year in which the DSM plan is implemented. The PUC specifically notes that this “disincentive offset” should not be considered lost margin recovery but rather as an annual bonus for meeting approved DSM goals. Incentives are also included in the mechanism, and utilities achieving efficiency targets can earn a percentage of the net economic benefits generated by those savings. Combined total incentive payments are capped at 20% of PSCo’s annual DSM expenditures.

In 2018, the Commission ruled that, given the new 500 GWh energy savings goal, PSCo will begin to receive a performance incentive only when reaching 80% of the goal, or at 400 GWh (Decision No. C18-0417 Proceeding No. 17A-0462EG). There will be a disincentive offset of $3M that PSCo will earn in two installments; the first $1.5M will be given once PSCo reaches 400 GWh of savings (80% of goal), and the second $1.5M will be given when the company reaches 450 GWh of savings (90% of goal). The performance incentive for PSCo is 40% of incremental net benefits above 280 GWh up to 550 GWh upon achievement of at least 400 GWh. Total incentives are capped at $18M.

For natural gas utilities, the incentive bonus is capped at 25% of the expenditures or 20% of the net economic benefits of the DSM programs, whichever amount is lower.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: total resource cost test 

  • Secondary tests used: participant cost test, ratepayer impact measure test, utility cost test, societal cost test 

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Colorado relies on regulatory orders. Evaluations are administered by the utilities. Colorado has established formal rules and procedures for evaluation. The utilities submit a set of technical assumptions as part of their respective plan filings, which are approved by the Commission (see Stipulation and Settlement Agreement in Public Service Company Docket No. 08A-366EG). Statewide evaluations are conducted. According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Colorado relies on the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test and considers it to be its primary cost-effectiveness test. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in PUC HB 07-1037. These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio and total program level screening. Colorado’s TRC accounts for avoided costs of compliance with emissions regulations and benefits associated with improved public health, participant health and environmental benefits. Additional non-energy benefits (NEBs) may be included in a 10% adder as determined by the commission.  

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Colorado is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP). Further information on health and environmental benefits is available in ACEEE’s Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency


Last Updated: January 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

No specific level of spending is required, although utilities and the state offer a variety of low-income programs.

In 2007, the Colorado General Assembly passed HB 1037, which, in addition to establishing energy savings goals for utilities, also instructed them to make sure that low-income customers had access to DSM programs. This was codified in Colorado statute 40-3.2.104, which directs utilities to provide funding for low-income energy-assistance programs such as bill assistance and weatherization through the assessment of a public benefits charge.

This funding is administered by the Colorado Energy Assistance Foundation (now Energy Outreach Colorado), created under section 40-8.5-104. Energy Outreach Colorado is required to file a report with the commission annually, showing amounts of money collected under the public benefits charge and demonstrating that the funds were used towards low-income energy bill payment assistance and energy efficiency improvements for affordable housing and non-profit facilities.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Decision No. C08-0560 directs the Colorado Public Service Commission to pursue all cost-effective low-income DSM programs, “but to not forego DSM programs simply because they do not pass a 1.0 TRC test.” It also directs that, in applying the TRC to low-income DSM programs, “the benefits included in the calculation shall be increased by 20%, to reflect the higher level of non-energy benefits that are likely to accrue from DSM services to low-income customers.” This was increased further to 50% for low-income measures and products in April 2018 under Decision No. C18-0417.

To avoid unintended impacts to calculations of benefits pursuant to performance incentives, the decision also allows utilities to exclude these costs in these determinations: “To address this concern we find that the costs and benefits associated with any low-income DSM program that is approved and has a TRC below 1.0 may be excluded from the calculation of net economic benefits. Further, the energy and demand savings may be applied toward the calculation of overall energy and demand savings, for purposes of determining progress toward annual goals.”

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

The Colorado Commission on Low-Income Energy Assistance is responsible for coordinating the state’s low-income energy assistance services pursuant to C.R.S. § 40-8.5-103.5 and Executive Order D 026 07. Many Colorado utilities have decided to enter into agreements with the Colorado Energy Office, the federal Weatherization Assistance Program grantee, and/or non-profits like Energy Outreach Colorado or community action agencies. In these instances, the funds generated by monthly surcharges are given to these other entities to provide services to the utility’s low-income customers.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

Self-direct programs for large customers are offered by Xcel Energy and Black Hills.

Xcel's self-direct program is available to commercial and industrial electric customers who have an aggregated peak load of at least 2 MW in any single month, an aggregated annual energy consumption of at least 10 GWh, and who are not allowed to participate in other conservation products offered by the company. Rebates are paid based on actual savings from a project, up to $525 per customer kW or $0.10 per kWh; rebates are given for either peak demand or energy savings but not both and are limited to 50% of the incremental cost of the project. Xcel uses raw monitoring results and engineering calculations to demonstrate actual energy and demand savings based on monitoring results.

To participate in the C&I Self-Direct program offered by Black Hills, customers must have an aggregated peak load greater than 1 MW in any single month and aggregated annual energy usage of 5,000 MWh.  Rebates and savings are calculated on a case-by-case basis; rebate values are calculated as either 50% of the incremental cost of the project or $0.30 per kWh savings, whichever is lower. 

More information on large customer self-direct programs can be found in the ACEEE report, Follow the Leaders: Improving Large Customer Self-Direct Programs.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Data AccessList All

Guidelines for Third Party Access

In decision R15-0406 from 2015, the Commission modernized its rules for utilities to provide customer information (including energy use) to third parties with customer consent. A 2-page standardized consent form was authorized, and 4 CCR 723-3 Section 3027(d) was modified to read: “As part of basic utility service, a utility shall provide to the customer’s standard customer data in electronic machine-readable form, without additional charge, to the customer or to any third party recipient to whom the customer has authorized disclosure of the customer’s customer data. Such access shall conform to nationally-recognized open standards and best practices.”

Requirements for Provision of Energy Use Data

No policies are in place that require the provision of energy use data.

Energy Use Data Availability

The state does not have an online standardized system through which access to individual or aggregated energy use data may be requested.

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 4.5 out of 10
Transportation Summary List All

In 2013, Colorado passed legislation that allows the entire local share of the Highway Users Tax Fund to be used for public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian investments. The state also has incentives for high-efficiency vehicles.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

On November 16, 2018, Colorado adopted a version of California’s low emission vehicle (LEV) standards for new light-duty and medium-duty motor vehicles sold in Colorado to take effect in the 2022 model year. The standards commit Colorado to increasingly stringent fuel efficiency standards through model year 2025.

The State of Colorado is also exploring approaches to a proposed zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standard that would impose sales quotas on vehicle manufacturers, thus increasing the percentage of zero emission vehicles in Colorado. Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission will consider a Request for Hearing on a Colorado ZEV Rule on May 10, 2019. More information here:

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land use Integration: No policy in place or proposed.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: The state has implemented a complete streets policy (HB 1147) to promote the use of alternative transportation by providing a comprehensive network of roads and streets.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: Colorado has a state freight plan, but it does not identify a multimodal freight network or include freight energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transit Funding List All

Colorado adopted the FASTER legislation in 2009, which created a State Transit and Rail fund that accumulates $5 million annually. The legislation also allocated $10 million a year from the Highway Users Tax Fund to the maintenance and creation of transit facilities.

The state subsequently passed SB 48 in 2013, which allowed for the entire local share of the Highway Users Trust Fund (derived from state gas tax and registration fees) to be used for public transit and bicycle or pedestrian investments.

Additionally, in 2018 the state passed SB 1, which created a new multimodal transportation fund allocated to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit funding. The bill as written allocated approximately $75 million in the current fiscal year; $22.5 million the following year; and $7.5 million/year for 20 years. In addition, state law requires that a minimum of 10% of any general fund transfer to the DOIT must go to public transit. This applies to debt funding authorized by SB 17-287, and is anticipated to result in $50 million of debt financed transit dollars in the next year.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

Colorado offers a flat $5,000 credit for the purchase of a light-duty electric vehicle and makes the credits assignable to a car dealer or finance company effectively turning the credit into a point of sale incentive. In 2020, this credit falls to $4,000 and then again to $2,500 in 2021. Credits are also available for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Colorado also offers $2,500 for a leased electric vehicle.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
Colorado does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, but it does consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Reviewed: July 2019
Appliance Standards
Score: 2 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Policy: CRS § 6-7.5-101 et seq.

Description: In 2014, the Colorado state legislature adopted SB 14-103, An Act Concerning the Phase-Out of the Sale of Certain Low-Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures. The policy requires the sale of plumbing fixtures meeting WaterSense standards for lavatory faucets, toilets, urinals and showerheads. These standards went into effect in September 2016.

Legislation (HB19-1231) updates and adopts standards for water efficiency and energy efficiency that apply to a list of 15 consumer and commercial appliances and other products. The standards are based on state standards, federal Energy Star and WaterSense specifications, and industry standards in most cases or, where a standard is not incorporated by reference, the standard is specified by statute.

The standards apply to new products sold in Colorado and are phased in over a period of 3 years, with general service lamps covered beginning in 2020, air compressors and portable air conditioners covered beginning in 2022, and all other listed products covered beginning in 2021. The bill keeps in place the water efficiency standards on certain products that were added to the Colorado statutes in 2014. The bill also includes a provision to adopt federal light bulb standards in case of repeal or rollback. 

Last Updated: June 2019

State Appliance Standards List All