Renewable Energy Alert!

(Thanks to Environment Colorado for the following alert materials.)

Even though Colorado voters passed a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in November to increase the use of renewable energies, utilities continue to drag their feet and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has yet to set the rules that companies like Xcel will then have to follow. These rules will determine whether the RES is successful or not.

Please ask the Colorado PUC to implement the RES (Amendment 37) as passed by the voters. Then ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this info to them.

Background Information

As we move towards implementation of Amendment 37, solar energy is drawing the greatest criticism from opponents of renewable energy. States like Nevada, California, and New Jersey have demonstrated that solar energy works when the utility offers a fair price for the electricity, creates simple rules to connect a system to the grid, and does not impose onerous insurance requirements. The PUC should adopt strong, clear, and complete rules that allow customers to easily install, connect, and sell solar electricity for a fair retail price.

Some of the potential threats to Amendment 37's implementation are:

  • Waiting four years for planning, which puts off the first year of compliance until 2010, is contrary to the language of Amendment 37, which reads "...beginning with 3% in the year 2007 and increasing to 10% by 2015."
  • Small and ambiguously worded penalties that will hurt the program's chances for success. Penalties should be substantial enough to encourage compliance with the law.
  • The cost cap of 1% per month for all customers should apply to the entire program, which was clearly the intent of the voters. Xcel proposes a complicated formula for allocating a percentage of benefits by technology that could undermine the program's solar provisions.
  • Proposed size limits for net-metered systems at 10 kilowatts (kW) are too small when Amendment 37 clearly sets the minimum size at 100 kW. The Commission should insist on clear language in the rule so that Xcel and Aquila "shall use" net metering, and not the "may allow" wording that Xcel has proposed.

In addition, there are policies that need to be included in the implementation plan:

  • Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) belong to the party that owns the equipment and produces the electricity.
  • The rebate for solar systems should be increased initially to about $4.50 per watt (W) and then decline over time. The experience of other states with solar programs indicates that a higher level of rebates is required at first to successfully initiate a solar program such as this one.
  • The program administrator must be an independent third party so that the implementation of Amendment 37 is fair to everyone and the process transparent.

Please ask the Colorado PUC to implement the RES (Amendment 37) as passed by the voters. Then ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this info to them.

For more information on Amendment 37 and renewable energy, call WCC organizer Andy Whipple at (970) 256-7650 and visit the websites below.

Other Resources

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Learn more about WCC's work on renewables




Western Colorado Congress is an alliance for community action empowering people
to protect and enhance their quality of life in western Colorado.

PO Box 1931, Grand Junction, CO 81502; phone (970) 256-7650; fax (970) 245-0686