30,000 Coloradans Petition Xcel Energy to Withdraw Anti-Solar Proposal

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Margaret McCall

Hundreds Stand up for Solar at Xcel Headquarters

Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center

Denver – December 11, 2013 – Today nearly 300 concerned Coloradans converged in Denver to oppose a proposal from Xcel Energy to roll back one of the state’s most successful solar programs. The energetic crowd braved wintery temperatures to deliver nearly 30,000 petition signatures urging Xcel to withdraw its proposal and keep Colorado solar shining.

Xcel Energy’s contested proposal seeks to undermine net metering, a program that encourages consumer investment in solar power. 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 the proposal as part of its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard compliance plan.

A coalition of Xcel consumers, advocacy organizations and businesses that support Colorado solar rights organized the petition drive and rally. Representatives from the coalition delivered the 30,000 messages of solar support directly to Xcel Energy executives. Full text of the petition can be found here.

“Coloradans feel strongly that we need to increase energy self-reliance, clean our air and fight climate disruption by developing our homegrown renewable energy resources. We should make it more affordable for Coloradans to harness sunshine to generate their own clean energy, not put solar out of their reach by rolling back our successful net metering program,” said Margaret McCall, energy associate at Environment Colorado.

“Coloradans are not going to let Xcel get away with a dramatic rollback of the state’s most important solar policy. If approved, Xcel would be able to drastically cut the credit solar customers receive for electricity they put on the grid. This proposal is anti-progress, anti-consumer, and simply unfair. Colorado’s solar customers deserve full credit for the valuable power they produce, which is building a safer, cleaner, more resilient grid for all of us,” said Annie Lappé, solar policy director at The Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar).

“Xcel’s anti-solar proposal is out of step with its own customers. Recent polling shows that four in five Coloradans support our current solar crediting arrangement and oppose Xcel’s efforts to weaken it. It’s time for Xcel, the Governor, and the PUC to represent the best interests of Coloradans by standing up for our solar rights,” said Meghan Nutting, a spokeswoman for The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), and Colorado-based director of policy and electricity markets for SolarCity Corp.

“At a time when solar is more affordable than ever, Xcel should work to expand private investment in solar generation and the many environmental and public health benefits it delivers to Coloradans. Instead, the utility’s proposal would actively discourage its customers from investing in solar to prop up Xcel’s outdated business model. It makes no sense,” said Bryce Carter, organizer with the Sierra Club Colorado Beyond Coal Campaign.

“Coloradans who choose to produce their own energy through rooftop solar should receive the same rate as the utility for that electricity. Xcel’s proposal to credit customers far less than the current retail rate is unfair. Net metering is critical for allowing customers to participate in an energy marketplace that’s otherwise dominated by utilities,” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA).

Rooftop solar helps Colorado families, schools and businesses take charge of their power supply and their electricity bills like never before. This private investment in local clean energy delivers economic, environmental and public health benefits to Xcel’s solar and non-solar customers alike.

  • Grid benefits: Local solar energy systems reduce the need for expensive centralized power plants and transmission infrastructure, which benefits Colorado’s non-solar customers. These grid benefits total up to $13.6 million annually for Xcel’s ratepayers.
  • Job & economic benefits: More than 300 solar companies currently employ 3,600 Coloradans throughout the state. In 2012, private investment to install solar on Colorado homes and businesses totaled $187 million.
  • New energy leadership: According to U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2013, Colorado ranks 7th in the country for solar capacity with 314 megawatts (MW) installed, enough to power 56,500 homes.

Groups opposing the Xcel net metering proposal include:
Advanced Energy Economy, Clean Energy Action, Clean Power Finance, COSEIA, Dynamic Integration, EnergyShouldBe.org, Environment Colorado, Five Star Consultants, Go Green Electric, Namaste Solar, Real Goods Solar, SEIA, Sierra Club, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter, SolarCity, Sunrun, TASC, Verengo Solar and Vote Solar.


About net metering:
Like rollover minutes on a cell phone bill, net metering gives solar customers full credit on their utility bills for the excess clean power they contribute to the grid. In place in 43 states, this simple crediting arrangement is one of the most important state policies for enabling Americans to generate their own power from solar and other renewable energy resources. Learn more at: www.OurSolarRights.org