Aurora City Council members question state rule that would curb natural gas on account of home affordability


AURORA | The majority of Aurora City Council members said this week they want the state to scrap a rule that would have developers and homebuyers pick up the entire tab for new gas infrastructure.

Currently, when building out natural gas pipelines to serve new developments, builders receive a 28% credit from Xcel Energy. A proposed state rule would eliminate that credit, part of a broader rulemaking effort to phase out fossil fuels and push utilities to hit targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But some Aurora lawmakers and staff said the environmental benefits of the rule wouldn’t be worth the immediate financial impact on homebuyers, specifically in neighborhoods that are under construction.

“It’s going to hit those neighborhoods pretty hard,” said Brandon Dittman, outside utility counsel for the city. “Ultimately, the homeowners will assume (it) as an unanticipated cost.”

While council conservatives mostly questioned the impact that the rule could have on affordable housing in the city, progressives stressed the importance of lowering emissions.

“The purpose of this not only is to disincentivize natural gas, which is polluting, but it also incentivizes land use,” councilmember Alison Coombs said, arguing it would cut down on urban sprawl. “Sprawling development has massive impacts on our climate and on our infrastructure costs as a city.”

Even some supporters of the rule, including Coombs, said they would like to see it modified to grandfather in projects that are currently underway, as the wording suggests the credit would be axed immediately.

Ultimately, the majority of members said they supported moving forward a letter to the state in which they would ask the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to get rid of the proposed rule, preserving the credit.

“We already have high home prices,” councilmember Francoise Bergan said. “I think this is going to put an extra burden on those who are looking for affordable housing in our area.”

Coombs and councilmembers Juan Marcano, Ruben Medina and Crystal Murillo said they would not support eliminating the rule completely.

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3 months ago

Electric heat is horribly expensive and can cause lots of problems during outages. I would suggest that the city offer incentives for new homes to have solar power. Solar is not cheap but does help decrease the cost of electric power. Solar collects the electricity and can then be used by the owner during the winter when the cost are so much higher.

3 months ago

This will affect future Aurora subdivisions if this idea gets the votes. But for those that have been in older Aurora for many years it’s not new. Some folks in Aurora, however live in subdivisions that were designed as all electric 20-25 years ago. They have no NG options. Ask them about how they feel about the price of full electric heat. It’s clean, but it’s expensive. The link will lay out the argument which gives strong credence to using and keep NG. These politicians need to research a little more local history.

3 months ago

They are only talking about a subsidy. Has nothing to do with affordable housing which is more and more weatherized construction that operates efficiently with electric. I’m always surprised at how much petroleum products are subsidized in our economy. It wouldn’t be so pervasive if it didn’t have the advantage of subsidies left and right. Imagine how far we would have gotten with all those funds going towards long-term solutions and better technologies. I have an older, brick ice box for a house… but every little improvement I’ve made over 20 years has brought the gas bill down. If my broke ass can do it for future generations, than so can many of you too.

James Coleman
3 months ago

What happens to our electric grid when we add home heating and car charging to a electric grid that already is overloaded??