- Colorado regulators want to give customers more control over their bills and energy usage and are pressing the state's utilities to run pilot programs exploring time-of-use (TOU) rates. But one commissioner at the Public Utilities Commission warns the state is moving too quickly.
- The PUC this week directed Black Hills Energy to develop a TOU pilot for its 85,000 customers, and to file it by Oct. 1. The utility had asked the commission to slow the implementation schedule, but regulators denied that request in a 2-1 vote.
- Xcel Energy is running a TOU pilot in the state, and according to The Pueblo Chieftain, Commissioner Wendy Moser voted against requiring the Black Hills pilot in favor of waiting for those results to come out.
As utilities work to better coordinate grid resources and reduce peak demand, time-of-use rates are increasingly being studied and implemented. Paired with solar-plus-storage, they can be a powerful tool for reducing customer bills. For electric vehicles, TOU rates will be crucial for utilities with high adoption rates in order to reduce peak demand and demand charges.
States are in varying stages of the shift. California will implement default TOU rates for all customers beginning in 2019. Last month, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a TOU pilot rate for Xcel Energy.
But in Colorado, Xcel is already running a pilot with the results expected in 2020. Commissioner Moser opposed directing Black Hills to develop a pilot immediately, but the measure passed 2-1.
"This will be expensive for customers in Pueblo," she said, according to the Chieftain.
The goal is to have the new rate pilot in place by next June and to make it available for all of Black Hills' customers.
Regulators are cautious because while customers can reduce their bills if they shift energy consumption to lower-priced times, those same bills can also rise if customers are not aware of the changes and how to utilize them. San Diego Gas & Electric recently proposed TOU residential rates with a year-long money-back offer allowing customers to opt out at any time and receive a refund if standard rates would have been cheaper.