- The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) opened its net energy metering docket April 9, the latest in as many as 22 state-level battles over the issue. Chair Joshua Epel asked stakeholders to be specific about the value of solar they believe should be used to replace the net energy metering (NEM) retail reimbursement rate. Final filings are due by April 29, after which the PUC will rule.
- Under Colorado’s NEM, residential solar owners are reimbursed at a retail rate of $0.105 per kilowatt-hour for the electricity their systems send to the grid. An Xcel PUC filing puts its estimate of the value solar provides at half that, $0.046 per kilowatt-hour, but advocates say solar provides environmental and economic value above the retail rate.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as well as solar and utility consultants across the country, have conducted value of solar studies. On April 1, Minnesota commissioners issued the nation’s first PUC-sanctioned Value of Solar calculation methodology. Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackerman asked the Colorado PUC not to undertake a new study but to find the common elements in the existing studies, as described by a recent Rocky Mountain Institute study, to determine the value of solar in the state.
This NEM docket is the result of raucous PUC proceedings earlier this year in which solar advocates, backed by the Colorado Energy Office, convinced commissioners to separate the NEM question from the Renewable Energy Standard reassessment but not to postpone it until the next rate case.
For all the disharmony of the national NEM debate, it has highlighted an open and effective regulatory process on which the efficient delivery of energy and a reliable grid depend. Solar and Xcel policy and regulatory folks, fresh off the lengthy Value of Solar Tariff debate in Minnesota, must be feeling a little battle-weary.
Watch for the next move from The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) to protect NEM. TASC represents the national solar installation companies specializing in solar third party ownership lease and PPA arrangements. Recent TASC interventions in South Carolina and Minnesota shook stakeholders on both sides of the issue and may have derailed South Carolina’s solar-supportive legislation.