With about 300 days of sunshine each year, Colorado is one of the top ranking states in the nation for solar energy potential. That’s one reason we chose Denver for our new mainland headquarters.
That’s also why we’re concerned about the efforts of Xcel Energy, the local utility company, to convince the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to limit net metering for its customers in Colorado. Net metering allows solar customers to “deposit” solar energy they don’t use into the electricity grid and receive a rebate for that energy.
The Solar Energy Industries Association has put together a petition to urge Xcel’s executives to withdraw their anti-solar net metering proposal before PUC. Here’s how SEIA explains the issue:
Xcel is proposing a major change in the way rooftop solar energy is valued in the electricity market. Currently, through a policy called “net metering,” when citizens use their own money to install solar energy systems on their homes, they are able to generate a credit that offsets their own energy usage.
This credit is not just for the energy they generate, but also for other benefits of solar. Solar helps utilities meet peak demand, reduces the need for costly transmission lines and cuts air pollution from power plants. A recent independent analysis found that the benefits of net-metered power to the electrical grid outweigh the lost revenue Xcel collects, with a total net value of between $7 and $11 million per year.
Instead of accounting for the total value of solar, Xcel Energy is using a flawed and outdated internal study to claim that net metering is a handout to consumers that needs to be eventually phased out. The utility is claiming that half the credit an average residential customer receives under net metering is a subsidy.*
If Xcel is successful in convincing the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that net metering is a subsidy, the company will have laid the groundwork to alter the economics that now make solar energy an attractive option for homeowners. The proposal is included in the utility’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard compliance filing and is pending before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
We must defend net metering in Colorado and show Xcel the support that solar energy has. Colorado citizens should not be penalized by choosing to invest private capital to become energy independent.
On Dec. 11, SEIA is asking supporters of the petition to gather in downtown Denver to personally deliver the petition to Xcel’s headquarters. If you’re interested in attending, meet at Skyline Park (1634 Arapahoe St., Denver, CO 80265) at noon.