According to a recent statewide survey by the NRDC Action Fund, 73 percent of Coloradans support expanding energy efficiency programs through utilities, and 64 percent support incentives to help interested customers replace gas appliances with electric heat pumps. A series of active proceedings at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) would do just that while simultaneously reducing expenditures on unnecessary fracked “natural” gas infrastructure. The policies currently being considered by the PUC would implement several recent laws and continue to propel Colorado buildings toward the future we need, where homes are healthier, more affordable, and climate-friendly. The legislators who enacted the ambitious laws in 2021 and the PUC staff and commissioners have been hard at work keeping the state on this leading-edge track to a clean energy economy that is clearly supported by a vast majority of Coloradans.
The NRDC Action Fund survey tested four key pillars of the ambitious buildings policy package that was passed in 2021 and is now being implemented at the PUC and elsewhere.
- 60 percent of voters believe the proposal would have a positive impact on climate change, health, and Colorado’s economy while rejecting the idea that it would cost them money—even after opposition messaging.
- 58 percent of voters overall support the proposal to increase energy efficiency and encourage a large-scale shift from gas to electricity in Colorado’s buildings.
- The proposal is particularly popular among Democrats (79 percent support) but also garners two-to-one support from unaffiliated voters (64 percent support) and near-two-to-one support from Latino voters across party lines (61 percent support).
- Two-thirds of Colorado voters (65 percent) and 74 percent of Latino voters say that “Colorado lawmakers need to do more to improve outdoor and indoor air quality in Colorado.”
- 68 percent agree that “with the recent wildfires and droughts, climate change is already having a serious impact on Colorado.”
Why these results matter
Coloradans already know that electric buildings are healthier, more efficient, and better for the climate than fossil gas–burning buildings.
- Well-funded fossil fuel industry groups and their allies are attacking a current proceeding at the Colorado PUC that would curb emissions from buildings because it hurts their bottom line.
- Coloradans are tired of dealing with the financial and health impacts of higher temperatures, more wildfires, and mega-droughts.
An active PUC proceeding will help Colorado move toward a greener, more electric future, in line with the survey’s findings and the state’s climate and affordability goals.
- The Public Utilities Commission is proposing to end the customer-funded subsidies that developers currently receive to connect a new building to the gas system.
- Under this proposed policy, Coloradans will still be able to connect a new building to the gas system, but existing customers will no longer be forced to pay for those extension costs.
- This rule does not mandate building electrification—it simply creates a pathway for new homes and buildings to be built clean and electric from the start without as many barriers, which is more cost-effective than retrofitting a building to be all-electric at a later date.
The policies proposed by the PUC will save gas customers money, particularly middle- and low-income customers, as developers will now be expected to pay for the full cost of new gas lines and therefore will only spend money on them if customers want them. The proposal simply levels the playing field for the clean, efficient buildings Coloradans clearly want. The PUC should continue its leadership on this issue and adopt the rules as they are proposed.
The big picture
This latest NRDC Action Fund poll confirms what Governor Jared Polis’s administration and leading legislators already knew when they enacted a comprehensive buildings policy package in 2021: Heat pumps and electric appliances, such as induction stoves and water heaters, are more efficient than their gas counterparts and come with amazing benefits—decreased energy demand, cost savings, and cleaner indoor and outdoor air. Instead of using fossil gas to heat homes and power appliances, which contributes to harmful emissions and air pollution, Coloradans want clean heat and power from these healthy, climate-friendly appliances.
Despite the fossil fuel industry’s expansive, greenwashed marketing campaigns, Coloradans rightfully view climate change as a serious and growing problem across the state. We expect our elected and appointed leaders to take action to combat climate change, improve air quality, and save us money.