A bill to create the "Colorado Carbon Fund" special plate is expected to pass the House Transportation Committee later Thursday afternoon. Senate Bill 186 has already passed out of the State Senate.
"We talk about environmentally-friendly light bulbs, maybe driving less, using mass transit, this is just another opportunity for (citizens) to say here's a way I can invest my money into something that can make a difference," said Rep. Ken Summers (R-Lakewood), the House sponsor of the measure. "We can talk about it in government, and do all kinds of things from the top down, but unless people catch the vision and the interest and the desire and are motivated to do something themselves, not a whole lot is really going to be done."
To qualify for the plates, drivers will need to make a donation to the Colorado Carbon Fund, which is a voluntary carbon offset program being created by the Governor's Energy Office. They will also need to pay $55.36 for the plate. The Carbon Fund will be up and running later this spring to direct money toward Colorado-based projects designed to promote clean energy and climate mitigation projects. Vehicles over 16,000 pounds will not be eligible to a Colorado Carbon Fund license plate.
"As opposed to other carbon offset programs, the Colorado Carbon Fund is a first of its kind program that only invests in Colorado," said Tom Plant, the director of the Governor's Energy Office. "The carbon offsets purchased by individuals or organizations will directly fund energy efficient and renewable energy projects here in Colorado, where our communities, residents and businesses can see and receive the benefits."
The measure is expected to go before the House Appropriations Committee early next week. If approved, the plate could be available to drivers by January 2009.
It is not the only effort on the part of lawmakers to engage Coloradans in taking action to better their own climate. House Bill 1270 (Sponsored by Rep. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood)) would prohibit homeowners associations from restricting energy efficient technologies and House Bill 1160 (Sponsored by Rep. Judy Solano (D-Adams County)) would allow Coloradans to generate their own energy through wind turbines and solar panels while remaining on the overall energy grid.
The former is expected to be approved by lawmakers any day while the latter has already been signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado).
Further, lawmakers are in the process of vetting House Bill 1350 which gives cities and counties the authority to issue low and no-interest loans to both homeowners and businesses that want renewable energy systems. The Clean Energy Home Financing Act would allow those loans to be paid back through property liens, if they so choose.
"This is a remarkable program, the first of its kind in the country," House Majority Leader Rep. Alice Madden (D-Boulder) said at the news conference last month announcing the program. "Just think about the affect it could have: this sets the groundwork so every Colorado home, farm, ranch and business can invest in anew energy future."
(Copyright KUSA*TV. All rights reserved.)