Last year, one of the headline stories in U.S.’s solar world was net-metering. It looks like this will continue to be a hot topic in 2014 in some markets, including Colorado. Coloradans are already speaking up in support of this important policy, which allows them to capitalize on their decision to go solar.
Last year many utilities, including Xcel Energy in Colorado, pushed back against net-metering policies as they stand. In Colorado compensation for energy produced by net-metered customers is around 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour produced. This helps those with solar either save money on the energy they purchase from the grid and more quickly experience a payback from their solar power system.
The utilities are concerned that allowing residents to go solar and receive compensation for producing their own electricity will affect their bottom line and that other rate-payers will have to pay extra because of those customers with solar. As such Colorado’s Xcel Energy filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last year to change how it pays net-metered customers for the power their PV systems generate that they don’t use and put back on the grid.
In its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Plan Xcel requested that CPUC allow the company to re-evaluate how they reimburse net-metered customers. But last month the Governor’s Colorado Energy Office (CEO) recommended that CPUC not allow the re-evaluation of net-metering as part of the company’s renewable energy filing and instead consider it a separate matter. CPUC ultimately agreed with that decision and last week agreed to evaluate the case in a separate docket. “The Commission thwarted Xcel’s near-term attacks on net metering by ruling that the policy deserves its own docket and a more in depth discussion,” according to the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC).
“We commend both the PUC and the Colorado Energy Office for leading on this important issue and recognizing that net metering plays a critical role in Colorado’s solar growth,” said Meghan Nutting, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice. “We look forward to joining other stakeholders in transparent workshops, and we encourage an inclusive new docket to assess the value rooftop solar delivers to Coloradans and the state’s economy.”
During the Monday public comment period TASC, solar installers and supporters of solar hailed CPUC’s decision and called on the commission to hold a series of informal and inclusive workshops allowing all stakeholders, customers, the utility and others to discuss the costs and benefits of net-metered solar installations. They also called on the commission to bring in a third-party facilitator to assess the benefits of solar to run this process.Tweet