The Colorado Public Utilities Commission, under a mandate in the state's climate action plan, on Oct. 7 opened an investigative proceeding into greenhouse gas emissions from the retail natural gas industry.
Commissioners agreed to hold a series of informational meetings to hear from subject-matter experts on an array of topics pertaining to the retail natural gas industry and GHG emissions reductions. The first meeting, on "the mathematical greenhouse emissions reductions required from the natural gas industry," will be held in early November, PUC advisory staff member Bob Bergman said during the weekly meeting.
Potential topics for future meetings include options available to decarbonize retail natural gas; minimizing stranded assets in light of potential rulemakings; the role of renewable natural gas products and hydrogen; the potential for the electrification of current natural gas loads; and improvements in detection of natural gas and fugitive methane leaks, and associated costs.
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on Sept. 23 passed landmark regulations aimed at tracking and curbing emissions from natural gas and oil production (see CEM No. 1610). "Certainly it would be our goal to work in concert with the AQCC and [the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] . . . to better open our eyes to what we see coming from them," PUC member Megan Gillman said at the meeting.
Commissioners also sent to a hearing Black Hills Energy's Sept. 11 application to increase natural gas base rates. If approved, BHE's annual revenue for natural gas accounts would increase by around $13.5 million, an 18.6-percent increase in annual base revenues, based on an annual revenue requirement of around $86.3 million [20AL-0380G].
"The primary driver of the proposed rate increase is the Company's investments to improve the safety and reliability of its gas distribution system," Black Hills said in its application.
Residential customers would see increases in their monthly bills ranging from $3.43 to $11.57, depending on their location.
The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel on Sept. 17 filed a request for hearing on the increase, stating that Black Hills based its increase on a return on equity of 9.95 percent despite the commission having approved in May an ROE of 9.2 percent [19AL-0075G].