As a member of Coloradans for Reliable Electricity, we know that renewable energy is the future of our state’s energy mix. Recently, huge strides have been made to find a fair way to integrate the energy produced by rooftop solar with other 24/7 sources of power.
What is Net Metering?
Here in Colorado, energy and renewables have taken the right step forward finding a fairer way to transform outdated net metering policies. These policies, established in the 1970s, compensate customers with rooftop solar for any excess electricity they generate; local utilities are required to buy back this energy via the electric grid at the full retail rate. This energy can be more expensive than the energy the utilities can produce themselves or buy wholesale.
The Effects of Net Metering
When private solar customers sell their electricity back to the utility via the grid, the rate at which they sell this power includes not just the value of the power, but also the cost of maintaining the grid. Maintenance costs of this energy infrastructure are effectively avoided by solar customers and shifted onto the backs of non-solar customers. As a shared resource, Coloradans for Reliable Electricity believes that the entire community has a responsibility to keep the grid safe, up-to-date, and reliable. We have to make sure that customers who cannot afford or choose not to install personal solar panels aren’t forced to pay extra to support those who do.
A Comprehensive Approach
The grid benefits all of us. However, as private rooftop solar continues to grow, policies must be in place to ensure non-solar customers don’t have to shoulder the costs of maintaining the grid.
Colorado energy provider, Xcel Energy, has collaborated with local government, non-profit groups, and solar advocates to establish a modern payment plan for solar energy. This new rate plan will buy energy from customers with private solar at rates that vary throughout the day and seasons, depending on demand.
For example, as energy demand increases, solar customers receive a greater amount of credit on their bills for the energy they produce and sell back to the utility during this time. This flexible type of payment will increase the value of energy that solar customers produce and sell to their local utility.
A Smarter Renewable Solution
Along with this new agreement, Xcel is committed to making solar energy available for all customers through large-scale solar power generation. Currently under review, these programs could provide customers with, “easy, convenient and flexible options for designating that up to 100 percent of their energy come from clean, renewable sources.”
This plan is currently under review by the Public Utility Commission. Developed by groups from different sides of the issue, this agreement will pave the way for a cleaner energy future for Colorado, and serve as an example for states across the nation.