ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rocky Mountain compromise: Inside Xcel's landmark Colorado solar settlement
Rocky Mountain compromise: Inside Xcel's landmark Colorado solar settlement; In a summer of solar contention, Colorado stakeholders chose a path of less-resistance
Herman K. Trabish, August 22, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Colorado stakeholders continue wrestle with the issues left unresolved in this settlement. It shows that peace is hard to make but even harder to keep.
Colorado avoided the contentious utility-solar debates that have eroded the solar business in other states when Xcel Energy and 26 solar and consumer interest groups struck a far-reaching compromise in August of 2016 on a rate case, a controversial large-scale utility solar program, and the regular review of the state’s renewable energy plan. The final settlement included three key provisions. First, it replaced Xcel’s initial request for a fixed “grid use charge.” Instead, there will be a voluntary time-of-use (TOU) rate trial for residential customers and a voluntary time differentiated rate (TDR) demand charge pilot program for residential and commercial customers.
Second, the settlement approves Xcel’s proposed 50 MW solar installation, allowing the utility will be allowed to market subscriptions for the output to its retail customers through a green rider program. That could put the utility into competition with Colorado’s budding private sector community solar developers, though Xcel agreed to conditions stakeholders said would help preserve a level playing field. Finally, stakeholders approved regularly-scheduled updates of Colorado’s Renewable Energy Plan (RE Plan) for 2017 through 2019. They include capacity increases for Xcel’s renewables programs and a commitment from the utility to treat all net metered solar owners equitably. In addition to the victory over fixed charges, the structure of Xcel’s green energy rider program could be an example to other states… click here for more