It’s not just the fog that comes in on little cat feet. It’s also something far more ominous — the extreme-green agenda — and it’ll wreak a lot more havoc.

As reported last week in The Gazette, obscure new state rules complicate and potentially confound the installation of new natural gas supply lines and the extension of existing ones. The rules likely will limit expanded use of gas by raising the cost of installing gas lines in new construction, as state officials more or less admit. The idea is to price natural gas out of use.

The upshot would be to shift new home construction away from natural gas entirely — despite the fact there’s no practical or cost-effective alternative for Coloradans to heat their homes. And let’s not even talk about how many people prefer natural-gas cooking to electric.

New home buyers likely will have to forget about all the latest-generation, natural gas-fired patio amenities, too — deck heaters, fire pits and, of course, grills. It’ll be propane or nothing at all — assuming the state doesn’t have designs on doing away with propane use, too.

Even Xcel Energy — the state’s largest publicly regulated utility and certainly no foe of Gov. Jared Polis’ green-energy designs overall — warns the rules have the potential, to all intents and purposes, to ban new gas lines.

The new rules, imposed Dec. 1 by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, are the culmination of previous legislation and the overarching, if dubious, vision of the Polis administration. Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap requires gas utilities to achieve greenhouse gas reductions of 4% by 2025 and 22% by 2030.

The new rules aim to make utilities reach those targets by effecting “substantial reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Colorado Energy Office. Or, in the loftier and more opaque wording of the Public Utilities Commission’s ruling: “…one incremental step in the larger evolution of the shifting regulatory framework for the gas industry.”

Of course, that “one incremental step” will lead to epic — and unpleasant — change down the road. And this is where the little cat feet come in. The new regulatory scheme to strangle the supply of natural gas will go unnoticed at first.

For example, Xcel already requires 75% of the costs of new gas lines to be paid by builders. But the new rules would eliminate the balance, a $714 credit Xcel currently grants for new homes. Xcel officials told the commission that requiring builders to pay the full costs of expanded gas lines up front is a “de facto” ban on gas line extensions that is unfair to new customers.

Fair or not, many builders simply couldn’t afford to do that much advance work on spec. It would prompt some to forego natural gas to homes entirely. Which is the state’s ultimate goal.

And that’s when it all will start creeping up on ever more Coloradans.

The commission tap dances around that reality. As quoted by The Gazette, the commission vaguely invokes the power in its ruling to “evaluate the need for projects up front and ensure appropriate oversight of near-term and long-term investments in gas system infrastructure.”

Which translates to, “New homeowner? No gas for you!”

Denver Gazette Editorial Board

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