- Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program in Colorado will resume growing as the result of a settlement between the utility and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), with assent from the national Solar Energy Industries Association, that will allow incentives and rebates to continue going to solar buyers until the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reviews and approves Xcel’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) Plan.
- Under the agreement, Xcel’s Solar Rewards program can have up to 4 megawatts per month, to a total of 20 megawatts, of small solar systems no bigger than 25 kilowatts, at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour for customer-owned systems and 1 cent per kilowatt-hour for leased systems; and up to a total of 7 megawatts of commercial-scale 25 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts systems, at 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 6 megawatts and 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the final 1 megawatt.
- The stopgap measure, similar to one reached last year to keep Colorado’s solar industry growing under the Solar Rewards program, will require regulatory approval and includes a commitment by Xcel and the solar industry representatives to re-join negotiations if new allotments for the Solar Rewards program to be approved as part of the utility’s CPUC 2014 RES Compliance Plan are once again filled.
The truce agreement was particularly noteworthy because the two sides had been so passionately at odds over the issue of net energy metering that the CPUC voted to assign it to a separate docket to prevent the issue from making the 2014 RES Compliance Plan proceedings too explosive.
The total of 20 megawatts settled on for the small solar system category represented a compromise by Xcel because the utility proposed, in its pending 2014 RES Compliance Plan, the commission allot only 24 megawatts for all of 2014. The agreement’s 7 megawatts for commercial scale solar seems more aligned with Xcel’s proposed 12 megawatts for all of 2014.
The truce agreement did not include consideration of Xcel’s proposal to allot 6.5 megawatts total to Colorado’s increasingly popular commercial scale Solar Gardens program that allows people with roofs unsuitable for solar to own individual panels in larger installations, a program that has already built 7 installations totaling 3.39 megawatts and has 18 more in planning that will add over 14 more megawatts.
The agreement’s $0.03 and $0.01 incentive levels in the small system category was a compromise by Xcel from its proposed $0.02 and below $0.01 incentive levels.