Colorado commission approves ‘bridge’ solar deal for Xcel Energy

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission, in a June 18 decision that was issued in written form on June 25, approved a temporary “bridge” in Public Service Co. of Colorado’s distributed solar program.

Public Service Co. of Colorado, which is part of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), had worked out a settlement with the Solar Energy Industries Association and Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association on this matter, which was filed with the commission on May 5.

The settlement concerns the reopening of the Medium Solar*Rewards Program and the extension of the Small Solar*Rewards Program pending issuance of a final commission decision on Public Service’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan (RES Plan).

The settlement proposed the acquisition of a maximum of 4 MW per month (or a total of 20 MW) in the Small Solar*Rewards program and 7 MW total in the Medium Solar*Rewards program. Public Service would acquire this capacity from the date the commission approves the settlement until the commission issues a final decision on the 2014 RES Plan. The settlement contemplates all of the capacity acquired under the settlement will be subtracted from capacity approved in the 2014 RES Plan proceeding. The settlement proposed to change the maximum size of photovoltaic (PV) systems in the Small Solar*Rewards program from 10 kW to 25 kW. Correspondingly, the smallest PV system in the medium program is 25.1 kW.

The settling parties argued that it is important to bridge the gap between the closure of the 2013 programs and the start of the 2014 programs. SEIA and CoSEIA also argued that prolonged closures of the solar programs will result in financial hardship for onsite solar companies, loss of competition, and higher prices for onsite solar installations over time.

“We find the acquisition amounts contemplated in the settlement to be reasonable as a short-term ‘bridge’ pending a final Commission decision in the 2014 RES Plan Proceeding,” said the June 25 written order. “The approval of the settlement will allow immediate restoration of the Small and Medium Solar*Rewards programs and will result in continuity to customers, Public Service, and the solar industry. No party disputes continuity of the solar programs is in the public interest. This continuity is especially important given the current summer construction season.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.