Colorado Gives the Public a Say on Net Metering, and You Can Help

By Matthew Wheeland - January 31, 2014

colorado solar[Editor's note: This is a guest post from Annie Lappé of Vote Solar; it originally appeared on the Vote Solar blog and is reprinted with permission.]

Thanks to a tremendous outpouring of public solar support, yesterday the Colorado’s Public Utility Commission agreed to pull Xcel’s attacks on net metering out of the utility’s Renewable Energy Standard compliance plan and conduct a new, separate process to take a good look at this critically important solar program.

Net metering gives solar customers full retail credit on their energy bills for the excess power they contribute to the grid for the utility to resell nearby. Xcel issued a proposal to weaken the popular solar program as part of its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan docket (Docket No. 13A-0836E). Today’s PUC decision removes all issues related to net metering to a new docket that will allow a more thorough discussion of the value and design of Colorado’s net metering program.

See what Colorado stakeholders – from veterans and the faith community to breweries and environmental groups – had to say in support of the decision here.

This is good progress, but the fight isn’t over. Xcel is already making moves to make sure they hold all the cards in this new process. Vote Solar will be working hard to counter their influence, and to make sure that the process established by the PUC is fair, open and transparent.

Specifically we are asking the PUC to consider the the following five recommendations in establishing and overseeing a process to evaluate net metering:

  1. Establish an informal workshop process instead of a litigated docket process. This is because in a litigated docket the parties are hamstrung by the discovery process, and cannot engage in a meaningful back and forth throughout the process.
  2. Engage the services of an independent facilitator with expertise in the area of renewable resources, and in particular distributed solar resources, to promote a collaborative dialogue and facilitate the sharing of information.
  3. Adopt the benefit/cost list in the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) ELab Report as a comprehensive list of costs/benefits that should be considered. Further we believe the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s (IREC) A REGULATOR’S GUIDEBOOK: Calculating the Benefits and Costs of Distributed Solar Generation provides a great framework for calculating the list of costs and benefits presented by RMI.
  4. Focus on generator exports, as opposed to generation used onsite, as a basis for determining the cost and/or benefits of net metering.
  5. Clearly identify the intended outcomes of the process at the outset, e.g., how the results will be used. In this last regard, we recommend that a new docket begin with an informal meeting to discuss the goals of the PUC and the stakeholders.

Yesterday, when the Commissioners were discussing the scope and process for the investigation they specifically noted how interested they are in hearing from the public on this issue. Let’s not disappoint them.

If you live in Colorado, it’s more important than ever that you speak up for solar in person at next week’s Public Hearing:

RSVP & Details Here.

  • WHEN: February 3 from 4:30 p.m. until no later than 7:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: Public Utilities Commission Hearing Room, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250 Denver, Colorado.
  • WHAT: Come and speak out in support of Colorado’s net metering policy. Please thank the PUC and the Colorado Energy Office for their leadership thus far – and let them know that you won’t stand for anti-solar, anti-consumer shenanigans in the interest of protecting utility profits.

And if you can’t make it in person, we’ve made it easy for you to send in a comment through the Commission’s website. Click here to send an email.

Rooftop solar delivers tremendous ratepayer and societal benefits to Colorado. And our mission is to make sure the PUC considers this full range of benefits as part of their deeper investigation into net metering. We will keep you posted!

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