8:36am

Thu December 12, 2013
Solar Energy

Xcel, Rooftop Solar Advocates Continue To Spar Over 'Net Metering'

A dispute between rooftop solar advocacy groups and Xcel energy over net metering continues to heat up. Nearly 30,000 signatures were delivered to Xcel ’s downtown Denver headquarters  Wednesday asking the utility to withdraw a proposal seeking to change the net metering process. 

So what is net metering? It’s the payments or credits from the utility for solar power a homeowner generates. Xcel claims the current net metering rate of 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour is too high; and the actual value of solar energy from rooftops is around 4.6 cents. 

The cost of the current metering system, Xcel says, overestimates the true value of electricity that rooftop solar generates and creates a hidden incentive. Xcel’s representative, Ethnie Treick  says the company wants to work with pro-solar groups to come up with an adequate solution.

“We’re continuing the conversation with them, and it’s really this conversation with our regulators and other stakeholders to talk about how we provide affordable solar energy that works for folks that want to put solar on their homes, and also works for other customers who can’t,” Treick said.

But Meghan Nutting with the Alliance for Solar Choice says integrating rooftop solar into Xcel’s grid saves all rate payers money.

“The benefits that these solar customers add to the grid, more than outweigh any potential cost,” Nutting said. “And a study has shown that those benefits are provided to rate payers who don’t have solar on their roofs to a tune of about $13.6 million a year, just in Xcel’s territory.”

Xcel’s proposal is with Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission. The PUC is continuing to explore the potential changes to net metering.