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Want Solar in Colorado? Please Yell at Your State Regulator

Avatar for Tor "Solar Fred" Valenza
Published on 08/02/2009 in
Updated 12/18/2015

Yelling Hand
photo: Flickr/db*photography

Just read the news that Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, wants to tack on another fee for generating solar power. See this little article here.

No matter what state you live in, there’s a battle going on in the solar industry between “distributed solar power” (small little solar generators like homeowners) and “utility scale solar power” in which utilities use their political and buying power to produce large scale solar and wind farms.

We like all clean power, but there are two problems with these solar and wind farms. One problem is that the U.S. needs updated heavy duty wiring to carry all of that megawatt power from the middle of nowhere to cities. That’s not really the case at your home, where the existing wires leading to your street’s electric pole can handle the relatively small amount of extra solar juice your panels throw back to the grid — which gets used by and sold to your next door neighbor.

The second problem with utility scale is it wastes a fair amount of energy transferring megapower so many miles to the city.  Don’t want to get technical, but it’s wasted due to outdated electric wire technology. The longer those cables travel to the cities and burbs, the more power is wasted going from the farm to your microwave. Again, with your little home solar system, there’s some waste through your own wiring, but far less.  Think about it. Your excess power is going from your roof to the electric pole and then to your neighbor and his Wii.

As I said, we love solar here at SolarPowerRocks, but we also believe that you, as a home owner, should have the option to produce your very own solar and benefit financially from it over the long term–like the utility.  Every little fee they put on that solar bill, it’s just another little residential solar death of a thousand cuts.  And $2 today is $10 next year, and so on. Plus, there’s no reason why just solar homeowners should pay for these utility scale improvements that every energy customer (and really the planet) benefits from.

So if you’re a Colorado resident, call or email below and tell those yahoo regulators that Xcel is going to make plenty o’ Benjamins with their big solar and wind farms and that they don’t need to be tacking on another fee to residential solar.

And if you’re riled up enough and want your very own solar power now in Colorado, we’ll be pleased as a black lab with a tennis ball to set you up with a free solar quote.  Even if you’re not ready for solar and you’re a Colorado resident, please give these regulators a shout and let them know–and your friends know–that you want affordable distributed power too.  (BTW, you can easily let your friends know with our nifty “share” tool at the bottom of this post. Just sayin’.)  Thanks.

Public Utilities Commission
1560 Broadway, Suite 250
Denver, CO 80202
Toll free: 1-800-456-0858 (CO)
TTY: 303-894-2512
Fax: 303-894-2532
E-mail: [email protected]

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Last modified: December 18, 2015

2 thoughts on “Want Solar in Colorado? Please Yell at Your State Regulator

  1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

    Well, Ken, I don’t know whether it was this post or your work, but this Xcel proposal was dropped…for now. A battle won for distributed power.

  2. Avatar for Ken Oatman Ken Oatman says:

    “This is not part of the vision we have for Colorado’s new energy economy.”

    That’s what Blake Jones had to say about this Xcel ordeal. He’s the poster child for solar in Colorado, after he accompanied President Obama for the high-profile stimulus signing in Denver, earlier this year. The PR windfall of the decade, if you’re in the biz.

    Blake is also my cross-town competitor, the head of another solar company …and an inviable spokesman for the industry, whenever the press needs a pithy comment.

    We’re also in the same tribe, a pack of idealists tirelessly outfitting roofs with shiny panels of silicon—packaging solar energy as a personal investment as easy as a 401k.

    Colorado voters did pass Amendment 37 in 2004, against the odds, and our utility’s effort to dumb down our efforts is offensive and wrong-headed.

    The majority of citizens made solar energy viable here, and we’ll prevail regardless of wrenches thrown in our infrastructure. Amendment 37 required large utilities to invest in renewables, with a mandate for a 20% portfolio by 2020. Although the Public Utility Commission has an unblemished history of rubber-stamping Xcel’s requests, this one is different. Despite the doublespeak, it’s obvious that Xcel has been backroom-lobbying for a dreamy return to the status quo of yesteryear. To comply with Xcel’s request will cause another, stronger grassroots uprising—because Coloradans are proud of our energy progressiveness.

    For one thing, I predict a strong, vocal turnout at the PUC meeting on August 5th. I also expect the PUC to remember their roots, to respect democracy, and to help make solar an unhindered option, accessible not just to the wealthy but to all of us. That’s what made our lightly-populated state the fourth best solar achiever in the U.S.

    I appreciate for reaching out to publicize our cause. The outcry has died out in the local press, for now, but I suspect we’ll prevail in the name of long-term thinking.

    Keep on communicating. And voting. And making a show of hands and feet in local forums and public halls when it really matters.

    The PUC hearing is August 5th, in Denver, and you’re invited. See you there.

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