Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colorado - XCEL Reopens Solar Gardens Docket

XCEL energy has taken the Colorado PUC solar gardens rules into Review, Rehearing, and Reconsideration - the dreaded "Triple R". This largely has to do with a section of the rules that relate to customers who pay demand charges. As currently written, the rules would require bill credit rates to be calculated separately for each customer.

The rules as they stand would favor agricultural producers, which follows the intent of the statute. A group of farmers in the San Luis Valley went solar and lost a lot of money a few years back because demand charges are currently not considered in net metering. On the other hand, too generous a rate could cause residential customers to be pushed out of the solar gardens market by commercial and industrial customers engaged in applications such as metallurgy, irrigation, and EV charging. XCEL does have an argument here, so I suggest a reasonable cap on the rate to prevent this.

One argument that XCEL makes is that it would take a lot of programmer time to calculate individual rates for each customer. I figure I can save them a ton of money if I just write the code for them - I've even made it open source and posted it here free of charge:

credit_per_kWh = (demand_charge + rate_per_kWh * kWh_usage) / kWh_usage; // Calculates solar garden bill credit for demand rate customers

There you go, XCEL. One line of code.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

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