COSEIA Helps Forge Landmark Settlement with Xcel Energy:
Pact will Light the Way for Colorado Solar Energy Progress
The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) lauded the massive settlement filed today by Xcel Energy and nearly two dozen organizations to resolve a host of issues facing the Colorado solar industry while setting the stage for progressive future energy policy.
"The solar industry will create more jobs and produce more affordable clean energy because we have settled these issues,'' said COSEIA Executive Director Rebecca Cantwell. "Through these summer-long negotiations, we achieved major progress in giving Coloradans more control over their electricity use. Instead of the damaging fixed charges initially proposed for everyone's bills, we endorsed a move toward progressive electricity rates. These rates will reward residents and businesses who choose to go solar by putting a proper value on electricity produced when it is most valuable.''
Since June, COSEIA has played a key role in negotiations with Xcel and 26 intervenors ranging from large industrial energy users to environmental advocates. The parties embarked on the very complex task of simultaneously working to resolve scores of issues in three separate dockets filed by Xcel at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in order to avoid months of costly litigation.
The settlement covers a rate case determining which customers would pay how much for electricity, a renewable energy plan that details how Xcel will meet requirements of Colorado's renewable energy laws, and a proposal by Xcel to build a 50 MW solar facility and sell shares to the public. The settlement filed today still must be approved by the PUC, and parties will have a chance to explain their positions orally and at a hearing.
Among the key provisions COSEIA helped negotiate include:
- A strategic shift from flat rates for residential customers to a trial launch of more sophisticated Time of Use (TOU) rates that 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.
- First time solar programs to allow low-income Coloradans 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A variety of provisions providing adequate capacity for rooftop solar, community solar gardens, and large scale solar, while imposing responsible conditions on Xcel's planned 50 MW solar farm.
- Several stakeholder groups that 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.
"We must work with Xcel and other stakeholders to support the competitive solar industry. This settlement signals cooperation rather than confrontation which COSEIA believes is the most productive way to advance solar, allow citizens and companies to own clean energy rather than rent dirty fossil fuel, and impact catastrophic climate change. With this settlement, solar will continue as a bright star in our state's economy,'' said John Bringenberg, COSEIA board president.
COSEIA, founded in 1989, leads Colorado's solar industry will nearly 200 solar company and advocate members.
Links to the Documents filed today can by found here
For more information:
Contact Rebecca Cantwell 720-209-6000 or firstname.lastname@example.org