Two weeks ago, I listened — incredulously — to Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, suggest that solar energy offers its ratepayers no value as an environmental hedge against carbon emissions or as a price hedge against natural gas fuel price fluctuations. (See and share the infographic related to this post.)
But just three days later, Xcel was singing a different tune [docket pdf] to the state’s public utilities commission. In fact, the utility was touting the benefits of its nuclear power capacity, because (in the words of James Alder of Xcel Energy):
But could “it” be solar power?
Not according to Xcel. Xcel was defending a more than 100 percent cost overrun upgrading one of its two nuclear power plants in Minnesota. They're interested in big numbers in front of the public utility commission, where a high environmental value means more money from ratepayers to cover their shareholders' interest.
When it comes to solar — that the utility buys from others and has smaller value to shareholders — the lower the value, the better.
With a utility like this, it’s a wonder that Boulder, CO, is the only Xcel-served city (so far) to switch to a locally-controlled, municipal utility. Who’s next? And how will regulators in Minnesota hold the utility accountable for its hypocritical comments on the value of solar?
Lead image: Two faces via Shutterstock
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.