Colorado PUC approves solar-friendly settlement for Xcel Energy

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Nov. 9 approved a comprehensive settlement that resolves three major Public Service Co. of Colorado/Xcel Energy cases involving electricity pricing and renewable energy.

The PUC approved without modification an agreement that resolves Xcel’s phase II electric rate case, a solar subscription program and the company’s 2017 Renewable Energy compliance plan. The settlement was supported or unopposed by 24 of 26 intervenors in the various proceedings.

While the settlement expands the development of solar energy in Colorado, the commission said it added protections that limit the cost impact to ratepayers, and preserve the ability of the PUC to determine in the future the fairness of proposed changes to how ratepayers will pay for the energy they use. The commission also emphasized that future acquisitions of renewable energy should be proposed through the Electric Resource Plan (ERP) process, where resources have to be bid competitively and evaluated against other potential resources.

“This decision continues the trend that Colorado is a national leader in thoughtful development of renewable energy,” PUC Chairman Joshua Epel said.

The settlement: allows for the company to offer subscriptions to a new 50-MW solar facility through its Renewable*Connect program; eliminates the company’s proposed fixed monthly grid charge and develops a pilot program to precede the potential full-scale rollout of residential time-of-use (TOU) rates; resolves phase II cost allocations between rate classes; and allows for the acquisition of more than 300 MW of on-site solar and community solar gardens through the suite of Solar*Rewards programs.

Parties to the settlement included the cities of Denver and Boulder, major environmental advocacy groups, state and national solar power trade groups, large industrial customers, PUC staff, and the Office of Consumer Counsel.

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.