- The net metering debate has shifted from Arizona to Colorado as protestors lined up outside Xcel Energy's office in Denver to protest a utility proposal to change the way it accounts for what it calls a net metering incentive.
- Through net metering, residential customers are avoiding 5.9 cents/kWh in costs that are shifted to other customers, according to a study conducted by Xcel. The utility wants to count the 5.9 cents as an incentive in an account that includes all the utility's renewable spending.
- "This would greatly reduce the economic viability" of rooftop solar arrays, Rebecca Cantwell, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association spokeswoman, told the Denver Post. Xcel disagrees with Cantwell.
The solar net metering fight has come to Colorado where the issue will be hammered out at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Xcel has been supporting a large influx of solar in Colorado. The utility has about 250 MW of solar on its system, including about 170 MW of rooftop solar, and the day before the protests, the PUC approved two utility-scale solar contracts totaling 170 MW for Xcel. The solar contracts were less expensive than natural gas-fired generation and are about half the price of rooftop solar, according to Mark Stutz, utility spokesman.
Xcel's net metering proposal, which is part of its renewable energy standard compliance plan, is designed to increase the transparency of incentives for solar, according to the proposal with the PUC.
“Our proposal does not immediately change the economics of installing PV for our customers, but it does shine a light on the magnitude of the issue so that we can have a more informed debate about the appropriate level of incentives going forward,” Xcel said in the filing.
The Vote Solar Initiative, which supports solar, argues that Xcel has undervalued distributed solar, according to a PUC filing. The group wants the PUC to reject the proposal and study the costs and benefits of solar in a separate investigation.
A PUC decision is expected soon.