The three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission on November 9, 2017 gave oral approval to a landmark settlement between Xcel Energy and two dozen organizations that will provide progress on energy policy for years to come. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), which played a key role last summer in negotiating the settlement across three separate dockets, praised the unanimous decision.
The settlement, described by Xcel Energy as the largest of its kind in Colorado history, brought together the utility with 26 intervenors ranging from large industrial users to environmental advocates. In negotiations lasting all summer, COSEIA and other key parties worked to resolve scores of issues in three separate proposals filed by Xcel with the PUC. The settlement allowed the parties to avoid months of costly litigation.
Chairman Joshua Epel Wednesday expressed thanks to all the parties who negotiated the settlement. “I’m really pleased that 24 of 26 parties were able to achieve a settlement that expands all kinds of solar energy,” he said. “This was a Herculean effort and I’m proud that you have set a trajectory for the state on expanding renewable energy… that I think is a model for the nation.”
Among the key provisions COSEIA helped negotiate include:
An Open rooftop solar market not tied to Solar*Rewards
Agreement that the fundamental solar policy of net metering – being fairly credited for energy produced- will be available to customers regardless of whether they participate in Xcel’s solar programs. We believe this will create a robust new open market for residential solar.
Expanded capacity for commercial markets
Doubled capacity for solar systems geared toward businesses and industry. COSEIA believes Colorado’s commercial market has large unmet solar demand and the settlement provides a start toward improving market conditions for this sector.
First time low income solar programs
For the first time, low-income Coloradans will be able to reduce their electricity bills – and lower long-term costs – through solar energy that uses no fossil fuel. The settlement includes 4 MW a year of dedicated solar gardens for low-income Coloradans, and a separate rooftop program to install solar systems on up to 300 low-income residences.
Increases in solar capacity for community and large solar programs
Responsible conditions imposed on Renewable*Connect
Xcel will be allowed to build a new solar project up to 50 MW with conditions to ensure it does not compete unfairly with the private solar industry.
A strategic shift to trying out Time of Use and more progressive residential rates
(a) The settlement calls for voluntary trials of two new rates for residential customers. A trial launch of more sophisticated Time of Use (TOU) rates will allow customers more influence over their electric bill. These rates, now popular in other progressive markets, assign higher costs to energy during times when demand raises the cost of electricity. Since solar generates electricity during most of these hours, TOU rates more fairly account for the value of solar to all ratepayers. The new rates, which require meter upgrades, are expected to be rolled out in the next several years starting with volunteers. Opportunities to reevaluate the plan will be provided. A separate pilot of time-based residential demand rates will also start next year.
(b) Four stakeholder groups will meet regularly and include key players in Colorado’s energy market. These groups will work collaboratively to resolve ongoing issues with the utility and to develop clear metrics for measuring Xcel’s performance in supporting renewable energy programs.
Press Coverage of COSEIA:
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