In a positive move for the solar industry in Colorado the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), the national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Xcel Energy and more than 20 parties signed an agreement that supports solar power in the state. The agreement preserves net-metering and allows the utility to pilot time-of-use charges for its customers and a grid-use charge for solar customers which it had proposed.
"The solar industry will create more jobs and produce more affordable clean energy because we have settled these issues,'' said COSEIA Executive Director Rebecca Cantwell. "Through these summer-long negotiations, we achieved major progress in giving Coloradans more control over their electricity use. Instead of the damaging fixed charges initially proposed for everyone's bills, we endorsed a move toward progressive electricity rates. These rates will reward residents and businesses who choose to go solar by putting a proper value on electricity produced when it is most valuable.''
The settlement, which still needs to be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), would pilot time of use (TOU) rates for customers. The pilot assigns higher costs to energy when demand raises the cost of electricity. The new TOU rates will require meter upgrades and will be rolled out in the next few years. Among other provisions the agreement also makes 4 megawatts a year of solar gardens available to low-income Coloradans and includes a solar rooftop program to solar on 300 low-income residences annually.
“It was a massive undertaking and Xcel Energy should be praised for their leadership,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at SEIA. “We strongly encourage the Colorado Public Utility Commission to approve this deal, so Coloradoans can begin reaping the environmental and economic benefits of further solar adoption statewide.”
Under the proposal Xcel will build a massive, 50 megawatt community solar farm and sell shares to the public, which COSEIA anticipated will create a robust new open market for residential solar. The proposal also calls for stakeholders to meet regularly to resolve ongoing issues with the utility its support for renewable energy.
"We must work with Xcel and other stakeholders to support the competitive solar industry. This settlement signals cooperation rather than confrontation which COSEIA believes is the most productive way to advance solar, allow citizens and companies to own clean energy rather than rent dirty fossil fuel, and impact catastrophic climate change. With this settlement, solar will continue as a bright star in our state's economy,'' said John Bringenberg, COSEIA board president.Tweet