Press Release: Colorado Public Utilities Commission Approves Clean Energy Agreement
For immediate release
Utilities Commission Approves Xcel Energy Settlement Investing Millions into Equitable Clean Energy in Colorado
All Colorado energy regulators vote in favor of multi-million dollar settlement between Xcel Energy, the Environmental Justice Coalition, and other parties
Denver, Colorado––Today, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) unanimously voted in favor of Xcel Energy’s settlement agreement regarding the utility’s 2022-2025 Renewable Energy Plan (“2022-25 RE Plan”). Xcel serves 1.3 million electric and 1.2 million natural gas customers in Colorado. The 2022-25 RE Plan is Xcel’s four-year roadmap to expand renewable energy options for customers in Colorado. Xcel reached a settlement with an Environmental Justice Coalition, along with several other nonprofits and state agencies on September 1, 2022. The Environmental Justice Coalition consists of Vote Solar, GRID Alternatives, Cultivando, Colorado Latino Forum, GreenLatinos, Womxn from the Mountain, NAACP Denver, and Mothers Out Front–and is represented by Earthjustice.
“Xcel’s commitment to income qualified and disproportionately impacted communities is a big deal for the state’s clean and equitable energy future,” said Juan Roberto Madrid, GreenLations Colorado Clean Transportation & Energy Policy Advocate. “Low income and community solar has a major role to play in an equitable energy transition, and it’s incredibly exciting to see Xcel recognize that.”
Throughout this case, the Environmental Justice Coalition called for more equitable access to rooftop solar, community solar, and battery storage. In the settlement agreement, Xcel agreed to several meaningful clean energy and environmental justice commitments, including dedicating $32.8 million toward renewable energy programs and incentives for income-qualified customers and disproportionately impacted communities. Dedicated spending for these customers will promote equitable implementation of the RE Plan by ensuring lower costs for solar installation, expanded access to community solar, and proper community engagement and education.
“The settlement is a major step forward towards a more equitable renewable energy future in Colorado and helps even the playing field for who has the opportunity to benefit from renewable energy access in our state. It also represents an important step towards establishing community engagement processes to increase the diversity of voices and perspectives considered by the Public Utility Commission, which will strengthen PUC decision making to the benefit of all Coloradans,” said Tom Figel, Senior Director of Policy and Business Development with GRID Alternatives. “It also represents an important step towards establishing community engagement processes to increase the diversity of voices and perspectives considered by the Public Utility Commission, which will strengthen PUC decision making to the benefit of all Coloradans.”
The settlement also earmarks $6.5 million for energy storage (supporting approximately 10 MW total of battery storage) over the four years of the RE Plan. This plan also develops a new $1.6 million program to provide greater incentives to low income and historically disadvantaged communities. Community solar projects are also estimated to receive up to $52.6 million from the settlement. Further, the settlement will invest $250,000 annually for workforce training and development. The PUC approved all aspects of the settlement.
For Xcel customers to better understand the incentives and programs, the company intends to spend $4.75 million of the flexible budget for community engagement and outreach programs. Xcel has committed to working with environmental justice nonprofits to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach. Together, they will focus on outreach to income-qualified customers and disproportionately impacted communities. Finally, the utility has agreed to use the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s mapping tool, EnviroScreen, to identify disproportionately impacted communities in program proposals.
“We’re so thankful to everyone who engaged in Xcel’s Renewable Energy Standard Plan process,” said Claudine Custodio, Senior Regulatory Manager at Vote Solar. “Coloradans made it clear that they are ready to move further and faster toward a resilient, clean energy future that prioritizes environmental justice.”
“The PUC’s decision highlights the importance of environmental justice and equity in Colorado’s clean energy future,” said Robert Rigonan, an Earthjustice attorney representing the Environmental Justice Coalition. “With meaningful investments and community engagement, this decision can provide tangible economic and environmental benefits for disproportionately impacted communities and income-qualified customers across Colorado.”
“Today’s agreement shows how Colorado’s utilities can play a vital part in energy equity across our state,” said Miah Ntepp, Denver NAACP Environmental Justice Policy Advisor. “Xcel’s investments will bring clean, affordable energy to communities most harmed by fossil fuels. This is a brighter future for us to look forward to”
Xcel, the Environmental Justice Coalition, and other groups in the community will work to conduct outreach to communities across Colorado. Regular workshops will be held to educate on the various opportunities offered for Coloradans, especially low-income communities. The various programs will be implemented over the course of several years.
Contact information: Emerald Sage, firstname.lastname@example.org, 443-952-1114