The Colorado Energy Office announced that it hired two consultants to help develop the state’s emissions reduction roadmap efforts during a monthly meeting of the Air Quality Control Commission yesterday in Denver.

Executive Director Will Toor told the commission that San Francisco-based Energy + Environmental Economics (E3) and the Center for the New Energy Economy, run by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) out of Colorado State University, will be working alongside various state offices on the project starting next month.

“E3 and CNEE have worked on these plans in multiple other states and so [there’s] significant experience in how to think through multisector [greenhouse gas] emissions reductions issues,” Toor said.

Based on both firms’ prior work, it appears that paring back natural gas use will be front of mind as the policy is developed.

In California, for example, a plan devised by E3 would reduce the use of natural gas in residential buildings by 90 percent, according to The Los Angeles Times.

And Western Wire previously reported on closed-door meeting in July of state officials, environmental activists and think tanks—including the Center for the New Energy Economy—to collaborate on ways to prevent consumers from using natural gas-powered home appliances.

The firms will be tasked with helping Colorado implement the policies needed to meet the requirements of HB 1261, a law that was passed during the spring legislative session that mandates Colorado reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and the achieves further reductions of 50 percent and 90 percent by 2030 and 2050 respectively.

Toor alluded to the fact that electrification will be a major tenant of Colorado achieving its emissions targets.  Currently, expected reductions of emissions from oil and gas production and the utility sector are only projected to get Colorado hallway to its 2030 goals.  Electrification of the transportation sector and within buildings and among appliances will be a major focus of emissions reduction efforts moving forward.

“So, the basic idea of moving from using fossil fuel appliances directly in buildings, using things like water heaters and furnaces to using heat pumps powering by low-carbon electricity. The [Colorado] Energy Office is actually in a procurement process right now to do a building electrification potential study that is going to try to quantify the technical and economic potential for electrification in Colorado to help guide future policy on that,” Toor said.

As a part of the effort, considered to be a “top priority” for Governor Jared Polis’ (D) administration, the contractors and partner agencies will work on a multi-phase plan which will start by implementing a more accurate 2005 baseline figure for statewide emissions followed by extensive modeling of current and potential policies. E3 and CNEE will also help with brainstorming possible regulations.

“There will be an early development of what you might describe as with no regrets strategies, so we’ve asked the contractor to take a look at those things which are pretty obvious that we ought to do and sort of quantify, what are some of the strategies that we should be thinking about from a regulatory and programmatic and potentially legislative perspective,” Toor said.

On its website, E3 says it has worked on projects in California, New York, Asia, Africa, and Europe where it “helps utilities, regulators, policy makers, developers, and investors make the best strategic decisions possible as they implement new public policies, respond to technological advances, and address customers’ shifting expectations.”

The contracting work is set to begin early next month with an engagement plan completed by January and the greenhouse gas inventory and baseline construction by mid-2020.  The full roadmap is expected to be completed by next fall.