Colorado Governor signs law to define some pumped hydropower as renewable

Colorado flag

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has signed HB21-1052, Define Hydroelectricity as Renewable Energy, concerning the inclusion of pumped hydroelectric energy generation in the definition of “eligible energy resources” for purposes of meeting Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES).

In summary, “The bill removes the existing restriction on pumped hydroelectric facilities as a source of recycled energy, which is included in the definition of an eligible energy resource under the renewable energy standard statute, and instead includes any pumped hydroelectric facility under 15 megawatts that:

  • Does not combust fossil fuel to pump water;
  • Is not located on a natural waterway;
  • Includes measures to prevent fish mortality in the facility;
  • Does not impact any decreed in-stream flow; and
  • Does not cause any violation of state water quality standards when operated.”

In 2004, Colorado passed the first voter-led RES in the U.S., requiring electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy sources. The legislature has increased the amount of renewable energy required three times since 2004, including HB10-1001, which required investor-owned utilities to generate 30% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020, of which 3% must come from distributed energy resources. The most recent update, SB 13-252, requires cooperative utilities to generate 20% of their electricity from renewables.

This bill was sponsored by Representative Hugh McKean and Senator Rob Woodward.

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