Increased fixed costs with lower energy prices will make renewable energy and conservation investments less attractive
Denver, CO, June 2, 2016 – Members of the public will have a chance to be heard June 9 and 16 at hearings on new rates that will affect everyone who pays an electric bill to Xcel Energy. The utility’s proposal would send price signals that discourage energy conservation and rooftop solar energy.
Xcel Energy has mounted a massive PR campaign to convince Coloradans that a series of sweeping proposals it calls “Our Energy Future” will be good for its customers. But an analysis by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) shows that the cases filed so far will stifle customer choice, put more control into the hands of the monopoly utility, and threaten Colorado’s struggling rooftop solar industry.
“We think Coloradans – and not just the utility – deserve a say in our energy future, and we are concerned these proposals will send us backwards rather than forward on a clean energy path,” said Rebecca Cantwell, Executive Director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association.
In its new rate case, Xcel Energy has proposed increasing fixed charges for all customers, while reducing charges on energy used. Solar advocates point out that by reducing the portion of the electric bill that consumers and small businesses can control through investments in renewable energy and conservation, Xcel is cutting financial incentives to invest. Xcel also plans to introduce “demand charges” for residential customers which up until now have only applied to large commercial and industrial customers.
“Colorado is losing its solar leadership role,” said Nick Perugini, director of business development for Bella Energy. “It’s time to turn the tide and encourage the energy transition we so badly need.” Colorado last year was 12th in solar installations after being a top 5 state for years, and Xcel Energy reported this month it gets only 1.3% of its Colorado electricity from the sun.
Namaste Solar Electric Commercial Sales Director Cynthia Christensen said it all comes down to the question: “Who owns the sun?” She noted, “The growth of solar energy in the absence of economic equality will be marginal in Colorado.”
Todd Stewart, a partner in Solar Power Financial, invests in renewable energy projects all over the country. “Regulators are still mostly basing decisions on the financial needs of the utility while failing to adequately consider the environmental costs of carbon or the health costs of burning fossil fuels when setting policies,” he said.
According to COSEIA Board President John Bringenberg, a variety of innovative rates should be tried out in order to gather solid information on which ones work for customers. “COSEIA will be proposing a variety of pilots that we believe will be helpful to customers in gaining more control over their energy use while helping low-income customers keep bills low.”
Contact: Rebecca Cantwell, COSEIA, (303) 333-7342, firstname.lastname@example.org