COLORADO – On August 26, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission issued emergency rules for the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, to implement changes required by SB 51, signed into law in April 2009. The changes became effective September 1. SB 51 required several changes to the state’s net metering rules for investor-owned utilities as they apply to solar electric systems. As previously mentioned in this publication, these changes include shifting the maximum system size for solar electric systems from 2 MW to 120% of the annual consumption of the site; redefining a site to include all contiguous property owned by the consumer; and allowing system owners to make a one-time election in writing to have their annual net excess generation carried forward as a credit from month to month indefinitely, rather than being paid annually at the average hourly incremental cost for that year. While SB 51 dealt explicitly with solar electric, the emergency rules pertain to all eligible energy resources. The Colorado PUC continues to develop final rules under Docket 08R-424E.
On a related note, in August, Xcel Energy Inc. asked the Colorado PUC for permission to change its popular “Solar Rewards” rebate program to allow third-party developers to participate. Senate Bill 51 allows third-party companies to own and install solar panels on residential roofs, while homeowners pay a monthly lease for the panels and use the renewable power in their homes.
Xcel on Monday proposed changing its Solar Rewards rebate program to allow these third-party companies to access the rebate money. In the past, only the property owner could receive any rebate money. All solar power systems get a $2 per watt rebate, per state law. The systems are also eligible for an additional payment for the Renewable Energy Credit (REC), associated with renewable power generation.
For systems owned by third parties, and sized 1 to 100 kilowatts, REC payments are 11 cents per kWh. For those sized 10 to 100 kilowatts, the REC payment is 11.5 cents per kWh. For systems capable of producing between 100 and 500 kilowatts, the $2 rebate is capped at $200,000, and the REC payment is 12.5 cents.
Xcel also recently announced that with the recent completion of infrastructure build-out and software deployment, Boulder, CO has become the world’s first fully operational smart grid-enabled city.