Colorado: A national model for electric heating?

By Jason Plautz | 06/18/2024 06:17 AM EDT

The state is the first to set an emission standard for gas distributors.

A worker installs a heat pump

A worker installs a heat pump. iStock

Colorado’s largest gas utility is slated to help electrify thousands of homes under a new plan that is being called a national model for states looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions from home heating systems.

The plan from Xcel Energy, the Minnesota-based utility that provides gas to 1.5 million Colorado customers, is the first one approved by regulators under the state’s first-in-the-nation law covering gas utilities’ emissions. The law, which passed in 2021, requires gas distributors to cut emissions 4 percent by 2023 and 22 percent by 2030, compared to 2015 levels.

More than 70 percent of Xcel’s $440 million framework approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last week will go to improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings or to converting gas and water heaters to electric appliances. It also includes a $32 million fund to incentivize the construction of all-electric homes.


“Other states have certainly looked and taken inspiration from the Colorado model … looking at this approach of decarbonizing but allowing some flexibility in terms of customer choice,” said Alejandra Mejia Cunningham, a senior manager of state policy working on building decarbonization with the Natural Resources Defense Council.