Xcel Plan Based On Flawed Study

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Originally posted in Renewable Energy World.

This week, the Solar Energy Industries Association joined other renewable energy advocates, businesses, and environmental groups to urge the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to reject a new proposal from Xcel Energy that would discourage net-metered solar energy growth in its territory. Issued last week as part of Xcel’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan, the proposal takes aim at net metering using a contested, in-house Xcel study that has not undergone public or commission review to make its case against the successful solar policy.

The Xcel study and this subsequent proposal do not fairly value the many benefits that net-metered solar delivers to Colorado. When determining the value of net-metered solar, both costs and benefits must be considered.  Solar is helping Colorado families, schools, and businesses take charge of their power supply and their electricity bills like never before. Distributed, local rooftop solar also delivers innumerable benefits to the electrical grid, which Xcel unfairly discounts in its study. Private investments in local clean energy deliver economic, environmental and public health benefits to Xcel’s solar and non-solar customers alike:

  • New energy leadership: Colorado ranks 5th in the country with enough solar installed to power 50,500 homes.
  • Grid benefits: Local solar energy systems can reduce the need for expensive centralized power plants and transmission infrastructure, which benefits Colorado’s non-solar customers.
  • Job & economic benefits: There are currently 275 solar companies employing 3,600 Coloradoans throughout the state. In 2012, $187 million was invested in Colorado to install solar on homes and businesses.

In order to ensure a mutually-agreeable resolution for both Xcel and the Colorado solar industry, the study and RES compliance plan must be adjusted in order to adequately account for all of these benefits. Until then, SEIA encourages the Colorado Public Utility Commission to take a stand for the state’s growing solar industry by rejecting Xcel’s near-sighted proposal.

Carrie Cullen Hitt, SEIA Senior Vice President of State Affairs

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