Xcel looks out for number one, tries to stifle public participation

Sometimes your opponents make your case even better than you can.

Vote Solar has intervened in a regulatory proceeding in Colorado to make sure that owners of solar systems get fair credit for their generation.  We were concerned that the utility, Public Service Company of Colorado, and Xcel company, would use the proceeding to try to protect its own monopoly business against the interests of its customers who are increasingly going solar.

Rooftop solar panel installation in winter

We didn’t have to wonder if that was the case for long. Xcel filed a legal motion to block us from receiving critical information about the case because…well, really, they say it best:

“We are objecting to Mr. Gilliam because he is the Director of Research and Analysis for Vote Solar, who by his own testimony ‘oversees policy initiatives, development and implementation’ to ‘remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale.’ He testified that he is representing the interests of the 3300 members of his organization in Colorado.

By our own testimony we represent Coloradans who support solar! This is only objectionable, of course, if you are an entity not interested in seeing barriers to solar removed or the interests of solar-loving Coloradans served.


“In its Motion to Intervene in this docket, Vote Solar explained that it “represents the interests of its members … relating the growth of distributed generation in Colorado.” Vote Solar also explained that it represents the interests of solar photovoltaic generators that will wish to sell power to Public Service. Vote Solar justified its intervention by claiming that the Company’s proposed tariffs would have the effect of “reducing the value of distributed generation in the form of solar QFs .. [and] would substantially impact the growth of distributed generation of solar generation in Colorado.

There is no question that developers of distributed generation in Colorado are direct competitors (and/or vendors) to Public Service Company of Colorado.”

There you have it, folks:  Vote Solar is representing you. You are competitor to the utility. And if you want to go solar they think you should jump in a lake.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

The good news conclusion to the story is that the Commission has seen through PSCo’s attempt to usurp its regulatory authority and the due process rights of participants in the regulatory process.  In a hearing yesterday, the judge in the proceeding thoughtfully denied the PSCo’s objection and allowed Vote Solar’s technical expert to have full access to the information.

We take our collective hats off to the hard working Commissioners and hearing officers in Colorado and across the country who have the difficult job of balancing many public and private interests in a fast-changing electricity world. We often say the interests of a few utilities should not outweigh the interests of the people they serve in these important  decisions. We are grateful that the Colorado Commission stood strong to make sure that public stakeholders have a say in the regulatory process. We hope they’ll move in favor of  a transparent and inclusive stakeholder process again in their upcoming net metering decision.

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