The expansion of the solar industry in sun-rich Colorado has reached a huge milestone. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved—without modification—a settlement fought for by two dozen organizations including major environmental advocacy groups and state and national solar power trade organizations.
The new settlement eliminates Xcel Energy’s proposed fixed monthly grid charge for solar customers, provides future protections for net-metering that limits the cost impact for renewable energy subscribers and allows customers to access power to a new 50-megawatt solar facility through its Renewable Connect subscription program. The settlement decision also provides for the expansion of more than 300 megawatts of community solar gardens through a solar rewards program.
"Today's decision will allow Colorado's vibrant solar industry to move ahead in deploying clean, affordable solar energy and planning for next-generation policies and technologies. Coloradans will gain more control over their energy use by having the option to choose to try out advanced rates. In addition to saving money by generating clean energy from their own solar panels, Coloradans will have the option of installing energy storage systems. And low-income Coloradans will gain the option of true energy security through a robust program of community and rooftop solar options for those least able to pay for energy,” said Rebecca Cantwell, COSEIA executive director.
According to the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), which played a key role in the exhaustive negations for the PUC’s decision, the most important aspects of the settlement include the fair crediting for energy produced from net-metered residential solar arrays and doubling solar production capacity for commercial and community solar projects.
New provisions provide for 4 new megawatts of solar power a year to become available for low-income Colorado residences. It also includes a rooftop solar program to install solar on 300 low-income residences every year.
"While we acknowledge that we all have more work to do in supporting Colorado's strong appetite for solar, including in the emerging commercial sector, we applaud the Commission's approval today to move us forward while providing new forums to tackle issues that may arise,'' said John Bringenberg, COSEIA board president.Tweet