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.