Colorado PUC approves Xcel Energy request for two clean technology demonstration projects

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, today issued its written decision granting Xcel Energy’s request for approval of two Innovative Clean Technology (ICT) demonstration projects.

The PUC approved without modification a settlement agreement authorizing Xcel to invest $9.1 million for the two projects, which will test emerging technologies on microgrid and battery applications. The settlement was signed by the company, PUC Staff, the Office of Consumer Counsel, the Colorado Energy Office, Western Resource Advocates, Sunrun Inc., and the Energy Freedom Coalition of America.

The PUC found that the settlement agreement improved the original application by providing greater public visibility through milestone reports, ensuring that costs for the projects would be appropriately vetted in a future rate proceeding, and assuring that all resulting data and information that would benefit the public will be made available to the PUC and the public as a whole.

For one project, known as the Panasonic project, Xcel will install utility-scale solar generation and one large battery at a location near Denver International Airport. The Panasonic project will have the capability to be operated as a microgrid as well as connected to the regional grid.

For the other project, known as the Stapleton project, Xcel will install six batteries on the customer side of the meter at residences that already have rooftop solar. Another six batteries will be installed on Xcel’s feeder line in that area, which receives significant power flowing from distributed generation. These utility-sited batteries will store excess energy and discharge it during peak load hours.

The purpose of the two projects is to understand the potential for energy storage to help Xcel manage the impact of high penetrations of distributed solar photovoltaic energy on its distribution system feeders. In addition, the company also will be evaluating the capabilities of batteries installed on distribution feeders to regulate voltage, reduce peak demand, and reduce energy costs for the benefit of all the company’s customers.