Ruling will encourage more distributed renewable energy installations
FRISCO — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission this week rejected an attempt by Xcel Energy to roll back net net metering, a key financial incentive that has helped spur widespread installation of rooftop solar systems in the state.
Net metering gives consumers credit for the energy their systems put into the grid at the same rate residential customers are charged for electricity — about 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Xcel had sought to cut the net-metering rate, claiming it forces non-solar customers to subsidize rooftop solar systems. The solar energy industry said the PUC’s decision is a fair outcome for the state’s consumers, utilities and solar industry.
In oral deliberations, PUC Chairman Joshua Epel and Commissioner Pam Patton agreed there is no need to change the key policy that provides those who choose to install solar on their rooftops retail credit for the energy they produce.
In a statement, the Solar Energy Industries Association said that a forthcoming written order from the PUC will clarify the decision.
“This is a positive outcome for Colorado customers with or without solar. The solar industry actively participated throughout the 18-month docket, providing the Commission with the best available information about the net benefits of solar to all customers, including how solar strengthens the grid,” the SEIA said.
“We believe net metering provides an important right for consumers to generate their own clean energy and receive fair credit for power they are sharing with neighbors,” said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association.”This decision will hopefully provide confidence to people who are considering going solar that this key policy will remain in effect.”
During the deliberations, Chairman Epel also said all parties agree that, if solar customers meet technical requirements, utilities must allow interconnection.
“We want to thank the Commission for holding this collaborative discussion on net metering, which allowed stakeholders the opportunity to present data on the costs and benefits of solar energy,” said Sean Gallagher, Vice President of the SEIA. “We look forward to continued engagement in these discussions so the state of Colorado can reap the long-term benefits that come from these smart energy policies.”
“The Commission proceeding over the past year allowed parties to recognize areas of agreement, including that Colorado’s solar customer investments should be protected”, said Nate Watters with The Alliance for Solar Choice. “This allows customers to safely contemplate investment in solar while providing stability to the industry for the time being, a positive result for the people of Colorado and those employed within it.”