House revives measure for coal mine methane as power plant fuel

DENVER — A bill that would allow coal mines that want to capture methane gas for resale as a power source won new life on the second-to-last day of the 2012 legislative session Tuesday.

House Bill 1160 was revived when it was amended into another measure dealing with recycled energy.

Like the methane bill, which has languished on the Senate calendar for more than a month, the recycled energy measure would allow electricity generated from synthetic gas from waste materials to be counted as a credit under the state’s renewable energy standard.

The methane bill, introduced by Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, was designed to help remove harmful methane naturally generated by coal from the atmosphere, create jobs and help coal mines earn extra money.

But to make it worthwhile for coal mines to invest in the technology to capture that methane, which is required to be vented for mining safety reasons, coal mines, utilities and rural electric associations need the credits from the standard to pay for it.

The standard requires utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity by 2020 through renewable sources, such as wind or solar. Rural electric associations have a 10 percent requirement. The law also allows them to purchase “credits” from others to meet that standard.

The Senate gave preliminary approval to the bill, but it still needs final Senate approval and the House must approve it today, the last day of the session.

Energy office

The Colorado Senate also gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that remakes how the Governor’s Energy Office operates.

Under House Bill 1315, the office will switch its focus from helping utilities and rural electric associations meet the state’s renewable standard to one that promotes all energy production in the state.

“This puts this office on the right path ... promoting Colorado’s energy economy in creating jobs and opportunities and clean and efficient energy technologies,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, sponsor of the bill. “(The bill) balances all of our policy work and all of our projects around energy to recognize that we have many traditional sources of energy.”

The measure, which also renames the office the Colorado Energy Office, requires a final Senate vote and House approval before it can head to the governor’s office.


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