Colorado’s largest utility and solar advocates including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) have reached an agreement to ensure that Colorado homeowners and businesses can go solar with a little bit of help from Xcel Energy. That’s thanks to the company’s Solar*Rewards program, which gives residents and businesses solar incentives for generating their own electricity.
Under the agreement Xcel would add up to 27 megawatts of solar power. The utility would support up to 4 megawatts of residential solar (up to 25 kilowatt systems) per month, with a 20 megawatt ceiling. Through Solar*Rewards customers will be reimbursed 3 cents per kilowatt hour generated by the system. It will also support up to 7 megawatts of solar installations between 25 kilowatts and 500 kilowatts in size at 6 cents per kilowatt hour then it will step down to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. While Xcel was still accepting applications for the residential side the capacity for the medium-sized solar arrays was filled in Oct. 2013.
"Coloradans are eager to generate their own clean solar energy on their homes and businesses, and this agreement will allow our home-grown solar companies to keep meeting that demand," said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of COSEIA. "It's hard on solar companies to have a program that stops and starts, and this will hopefully ensure a smoother business climate."
There has been contentious debate between the solar industry and Xcel, which has tried to make abrupt changes to the system as people have gobbled up the allocated funds to support their solar arrays. In fact, Xcel has 20,000 customers with solar power throughout the state. The interest in solar is also growing. More than 5,000 new residential systems were installed in 2012.
"Xcel Energy believes it is very important to keep the Solar*Rewards program going for our Colorado customers, while we work through various policy issues with the solar industry and other parties," said David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.
While there were tensions between the two sides in the past, they’ve also worked together in the past. “A similar settlement was reached by parties in April 2013, which extended the program though 2013 and into this year,” COSIEA noted.
The Colorado Public Utilities Council (CPUC) still has to approve the proposal and Xcel, COSEIA and SEIA requested an expedited review. The agreement would stand until Xcel’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan is approved. The agreement does not address net-metering issues which CPUC is considering separately.Tweet