In Colorado rooftop solar has become popular. In part because of the state’s net-metering rules, which require utilities like the state’s largest, Xcel Energy, to allow customers to sell extra power generated by their solar array back the utility. The policy has helped make it easier for homeowners to go solar since it allows them to get a quicker return on investment by further reducing their energy bills.
Now the utility is trying to change the way it calculates the reimbursement to net-metered customers for the energy they generate and put back on the grid. Xcel would not now change the way it bills net metered customers but would credit Electric Commodity Adjustment (ECA) an equal amount for the power produced. However, the state’s residents have protested the proposed changes as recently as December and now the Governor’s Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has joined the fray to stand up for net metering. A position supported by industry advocates like The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC).
On Jan. 22 the CEO filed a motion with Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to sever issues related to net metering from Xcel’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan docket (Docket No. 13A-0836E) into a separate docket. 7. “Severing the issues related to net metering into a separate Miscellaneous docket would increase transparency and allow stakeholders from across the state to participate in the dialog related to incremental costs, net metering incentives, and solar energy rates,” CEO said in its recommendation to the commission.
The CEO observed that doing so would be in line with the commissions previous approaches as it did for renewable energy requests for proposals (RFPs). “A decision to separate out the issues related to the costs and benefits of net metering from the RES docket is akin to the Commission’s previous decision to separate out decisions about RFPs the discussion of from the least-cost analysis docket.” The CEO added that doing so would allow all parties to provide feedback on how to estimate the costs and benefits of net metered distributed generation, allowing the PUC to make a more informed decision.
“We commend the Governor’s Energy Office for taking a course of action that aligns with the best interests of Colorado’s energy consumers and our state’s growing economy,” said Meghan Nutting, a spokesperson for TASC. “If approved, the CEO’s filing will give stakeholders an opportunity to have a thorough discussion about the value of solar and ultimately allow Colorado continue to demonstrate national leadership in solar.”
According to TASC, net-metered solar power generation delivers many benefits to Colorado—beyond just reduced bills for those with net-metered systems. “Local solar energy systems reduce the need for expensive centralized power plants and transmission infrastructure,” TASC said. “These grid benefits total up to $13.6 million annually for Xcel's ratepayers in Colorado.” In addition the state’s solar industry currently has more than 3,600 employees.
The CEO, according to TASC, is recommending that the commission at least investigate the cost and benefits of net-metered distributed generation, the effects of Xcel’s distributed solar generation (DSG) study and determine the appropriate procedure to conduct a study of costs and benefits of net metered solar power.Tweet