Across Colorado, solar panels are becoming a more common energy source for both commercial roofing and residences alike. Whether you have solar panels on your rooftop or not, your energy usage could still be drawn from solar power. Most homes that have made the switch to solar panels don’t end up using all the energy these panels create. Therefore the surplus energy is sent back to the energy grid which utility companies can resell to other customers. The practice known as “net metering” is mutually beneficial to those with rooftop solar panel installations as well as the utility company; solar customers receive credit for the excess units of energy put back to the grid and energy companies benefit from strengthened grid security and decreased need for more transmission lines or infrastructure. Of course the environmental benefits are also far reaching: cleaner air, water, and climate.
So what’s the catch? Xcel Energy wants to change its current net metering policies, slashing the credits given to solar customers by more than half. Xcel currently pays 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour produced by rooftop solar installations. Their new proposal will pay just 4.6 cents. Coloradans are outraged by the enormous step backwards and after gathering 30,000 signatures to petition Xcel, the battle is on. Public Opinion Strategies and Keating Research, Inc. conducted a poll showing that 4 out of 5 Colorado voters oppose Xcel’s proposition to change their current policy. Additionally, the poll revealed 78% of Coloradans support the practice of net metering.
If we look to other states such as Louisiana, Idaho, California, and Arizona, big name energy companies have repeatedly tried and repeatedly failed to stop solar initiatives. Solar energy is the wave of the future so rather than fighting it’s progression, it’s time to energy companies to get on board. “At a time when solar is more affordable than ever, Xcel should work to expand private investment in solar generation and the many environmental and public health benefits it delivers to Coloradans. Instead, the utility’s proposal would actively discourage its customers from investing in solar to prop up Xcel’s outdated business model. It makes no sense,” said Bryce Carter, organizer with the Sierra Club Colorado Beyond Coal Campaign.