Colorado PUC Seeks Net Metering Perspectives from Other States

Colorado’s net metering saga continues. The Colorado PUC initiated an open stakeholder discussion about the future of the crediting program earlier this year after rejecting Xcel Energy’s proposal to weaken it. The PUC originally called for three panels: one panel to review the costs of net metering, a second panel to review the benefits of net metering, and a third to seek perspectives on net metering from other states. Chairman Epel is now indicating that there will one or two more panels before a final decision on net metering program design is made.


Chair Heydinger from Minnesota, Commissioner Noble from Nevada, Commissioner Bitter Smith from Arizona, and Dr. Dan Arvisu from NREL joined Colorado PUC Commissioners on December 1 for the third panel. The three-hour panel touched on grid modernization, data privacy, and EPA’s Clean Power Plan—but the main objective of the panel was to seek perspectives on net metering from other states.

Commissioner Bitter Smith (AZ) made the excellent point that the old utility motto “solar is only for the rich” is simply not accurate.  As we’ve seen in the most mature state markets, with the right policies in place, solar adoption is highest in low and middle income neighborhoods, and the public health/grid benefits of such local solar investment reach all.  Chair Heydinger shared details of MN’s Value of Solar methodology including an environmental externalities value and utilization of the federal social cost of carbon figure. Commissioner Noble outlined the open stakeholder process that he led in Nevada to develop the E3 study on net metering. While the panel explored lessons from each state, a couple key points on valuation were neglected:

  • The Nevada E3 study (commissioned by PUCN) revealed a net benefit from net metered rooftop solar of $36 million to Nevada ratepayers
  • Solar has a higher value than the retail rate according to Minnesota Value of Solar Tariff Methodology

Two fundamental questions have yet to be addressed in Colorado’s net metering discussion: 1) What is the factual evidence for the cost shift claimed by Xcel (and apparently universally accepted by all of the Commissioners)?, and 2) How does that calculation account for the cost of carbon and future implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan?  We hope that the ongoing process will continue to be transparent, and when the time comes to address net metering policies, any changes proposed are data, not drama, driven.

The net metering saga will wage into 2015 with one (possibly two!) more panels. If you live in Colorado, make sure to sign up for our action alerts to get the latest scoop.

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