Xcel Energy’s Colorado Renewable Energy Plan Based on Flawed Study

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.

Read more solar energy news here.

Lead image: Time to act via Shutterstock

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Carrie Cullen Hitt serves as senior vice president of state affairs for SEIA and was previously president of the Solar Alliance, which merged with SEIA in 2012. Prior to joining the Solar Alliance, Carrie served as vice president of renewable products for Constellation Energy. In this role, she developed programs and capabilities to help customers manage their business' impact on the environment through greenhouse gas reducing activities, including purchasing renewable power.She also served as vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Constellation from 2002 to 2007. From 1999 to 2001, she worked at Green Mountain Energy Resources as director of regional business development. She has also held energy-related positions at the Massachusetts Legislature and Harvard University.Carrie holds an undergraduate degree from Clark University and an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves on the advisory council of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).

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