Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) will seek to continue its incentive programs for on-site solar for Colorado next year, as the company makes progress toward meeting the state’s renewable energy standard while offering its customers energy choices.
In filing its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Xcel Energy indicated that it would request to add 42.5 megawatts of new generation in 2014, including 24 megawatts of on-site, small solar and 6.5 megawatts of community solar, through the company’s Solar*Rewards program.
The RES compliance plan also asks the CPUC to identify clearly the incentives provided to solar customers associated with net metering. These net metering incentives ultimately are paid by non¬solar customers across Xcel Energy’s service territory in Colorado. The RES compliance plan does not propose to change the amount of money paid to solar customers in 2014, but to make the full net metering incentive clear and transparent.
“One of the goals of the state’s renewable energy effort a decade ago was to help establish the solar industry in Colorado. We have been successful, and at Xcel Energy we remain committed to offering clean energy choices for our customers,” said David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “Colorado now enjoys a robust solar industry and with this filing, we look forward to advancing the dialogue about cost and incentive transparency, and about how best to move forward in addressing these issues in the future.”
More than 15,000 Xcel Energy customers currently participate in the company’s Solar*Rewards program with more than 160 megawatts of solar generation.
Eves noted that under current rules, Xcel Energy believes the value of the net metering incentive is not clearly identified. Solar generation does allow the utility to avoid the cost of fuel, some future generating plant needs and some system energy losses, but other costs related to distribution, transmission and generation capacity are not avoided so they ultimately are paid for by other Xcel Energy customers in Colorado.
The utility is requesting that the solar customers’ net costs – the benefits they receive less the costs Xcel Energy avoids as a result of their solar systems – be clearly set forth in the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA).
“This is becoming an issue in many states, but we believe our proposal to continue our programs, while quantifying the full value of utility incentives – will make for better future decisions about our renewable energy alternatives” Eves said. “As the solar industry truly moves toward becoming self-sustaining, we need to determine how to address these costs.”
Xcel Energy has proposed other changes in its filing today, related to contributions to the RESA; modifications to continue the Solar*Rewards Community program to allow for more participation; adjustments to the methodology and premium for the company’s Windsource program; and establishment of non-solar renewable energy credit and recycled energy resource programs.