Petition resists Xcel Energy's plans for solar energy

DENVER - A petition bearing 27,000 signatures asks Xcel Energy to withdraw a recent proposal about solar energy. It was delivered with a protest outside Xcel's headquarters in Denver on Wednesday.

In their 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan, Xcel writes that they want to open a dialog about changes to the incentives offered in the on-site solar program. They specifically want to discuss "the equity of that incentive."

"Customers deserve credit for all of the solar that's produced on their rooftops and that shouldn't be undermined by Xcel's proposal and it shouldn't be undervalued by Xcel," said Meghan Nutting, Director of Policy and Electricity Markets for SolarCity.

But Xcel says the goal is to provide better service.

"The folks that have solar on their homes are not going to see any change in incentives they receive," said Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Treick. "It's merely starting a conversation, making sure it's fair for all of our customers."

One of the changes proposed by Xcel for 2014 is to include the cost of new installations in the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment but credit an equal amount to the Electric Commodity Adjustment. The utility wrote they are hopeful the change will inform debate about the "appropriate level of incentives going forward."

For customers who install their solar systems after the start of 2014, Xcel also proposes a surcharge to the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment. They called it a "fair share surcharge."

The utility's RES Plan specifically states, "We do not propose any changes for customers who have currently installed on-site [photo voltaic] systems."

In another immediate repercussion of the RES, Xcel is hanging its future plans for distributed generation on the decision about the "transparency" proposal. If the plan is refused, Xcel tells the Public Utilities Commission it will plan to cut the growth of distributed solar generation through two programs by nearly 70 percent.

With 237,800 renewable energy credits annually, Xcel's proposal shows it will already be compliant with its distributed generation requirements for 2014.

The proposal is currently in the hands of the Public Utilities Commission.

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