November 9th Update: Today, the Colorado PUC unanimously approved the landmark energy settlement between Xcel Energy and two dozen organizations, including Vote Solar. The settlement is a major victory for solar progress in Colorado and for increasing solar access in low-income communities. Below are the details of the settlement.
August 15, 2016: Colorado's major utility, Xcel Energy's PSCo, and parties including Vote Solar have reached a settlement that, if approved by state regulators, will expand consumer solar access across the state, particularly among low-income communities.
- Colorado Energy Office will offer a rooftop low-income program, coupled with its weatherization program, to leverage DOE funding to provide solar systems to low-income participants. PSCo will provide a $2/W rebate. Program size: 300 participants (75 in year 1, 100 in year 2, 125 in year 3).
- In the state's successful Community Solar Gardens shared solar program, PSCo will take on the 5% low-income participation requirements from developers.
- There will be an incremental 4 MW/yr Community Solar Garden program offering 100% low-income participation offered through an RFP.
- 500 kW of the maximum amount of the Community Solar Gardens program will be set aside annually for a low-income standard offer. The REC incentive to be paid for the standard offer participants will be the average annual awarded REC plus $0.01/kWh. Max size < 100 kW.
- Net metering parties will have equivalent rate design treatment, whether or not they receive a Solar*Rewards incentive. PSCo agreed to not propose prior to the next Phase II rate case any new tariff that would alter this treatment.
- Non-Solar*Rewards customers will be required to install a production meter, yet the cost of doing so will be paid for through the RESA account.
- For net metering customers that opt for an annual roll-over, the monthly crediting will be done on a monetary basis. This is a very important concept, particularly when used in combination with TOU rates. If a net metering customer opts for an annual “cash out”, the credit will be carried over in energy, and then the credit will be rolled the other periods (i.e. on-peak can offset off-peak and shoulder periods, etc).
- PSCo commits to providing the ability to sign up for net metering-only systems on-line.
- PSCo commits to developing a grid information study to make available possible interconnection points on the system via a “stop light- green light” type of demarcation.
- With respect to rates, PSCo withdrew its Grid Usage Charge, and will be testing an residential TOU rate. Customers may opt into this rate (and have a 2 month window in which they can cancel if they don’t like it). The goal is to learn from information collected through this initial test, refine the rate as necessary, and move towards across the board implementation of the TOU rate design. Parties also agreed to not oppose the concept of decoupling (for which PSCo has made a separate filing), but are free to make recommendations for modifications to the proposal.
- PSCo has also agreed to work with stakeholders to examine, outside the context of a litigated proceeding, the avoided generation costs provided by solar resources and the benefits of integrating a variety of distributed energy resources into the grid.