For those that keep up on happenings in the solar industry, Xcel’s sudden decision back in April to suspend its Solar*Rewards program , and then petition solar industry leaders to severely reduce offered incentives, is old news. Since then, Xcel Energy and the Colorado PUC have reached an agreement . Additionally, Xcel Energy also added the controversial new RESA Fair Share fee (as part of it's 2012 Renewable Energy Compliance Plan for Colorado) to Solar*Rewards participants’ monthly bills.
But before we go over what has changed, here is an overview of the Solar Rewards program:
What is the Xcel Solar*Rewards Program?
The Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards program is a solar stimulus program which provides incentives for solar system installations for homes and commercial buildings. All contracts are valid for a period 20 years, barring possible legal provisions.
To be eligible for the solar rewards program:
- The proposed solar system size must meet a minimum 0.5 kW
- Incentives are limited to 120% of the average annual energy consumption of the proposed site
The available rebates and incentives are separated into groups, based on the size of the proposed Photovoltaic (PV) System:
Small PV Systems
Qualifying System Size: 0.5 kW to 10 kW
Medium Tier 1 PV Systems
Qualifying System Size: 10.1kW to 100kW
Medium Tier 2 PV Systems
Qualifying System Size: 100.1kW to 500 kW
Large PV Systems
Qualifying System Size: 500 kW and greater
Xcel has conveniently set up a unique website for the application process:
Visit XcelEnergySolarRewards.com and follow the instructions to apply for the Solar*Rewards program today.
What is the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment?
Part of Xcel's 2012 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan, the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA) is a 2% fee paid by all Xcel Energy customers. 100% of the collected funds are then used to support other renewable energy programs, such as Solar*Rewards.
The RESA Fair Share Charge Applied to Solar*Rewards Customers
With the successful passing of House Bill 1001, Colorado state legislature has increased its renewable energy standard goal to 30%, to be reached by the year 2020.
Additionally, it was decided that Xcel Energy's Solar*Rewards customers do their part and contribute to the RESA fund, by paying a flat monthly rate determined by the size of their solar installation.
Starting June 1st, Solar*Rewards participants can expect to pay this additional fee on top of the standard 2% RESA fee all Xcel customers pay.
Solar*Rewards RESA Fee Rates
I don't agree with the new RESA fees, what can I do about it?
There are many members of the solar industry who feel Xcel Energy's new RESA fee is out of line, as solar customers have already paid 'their fair share' by investing in a solar power system.
The Public Utilities Commission is still considering Xcel Energy's proposed RESA charge (part of Xcel's proposed 2012 Colorado Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan). If you wish to voice your opinion, we encourage you to contact Colorado legislators, the Governor's Energy Office and the Public Utilities Commission overseeing Xcel's proposed changes.
REC Purchase Contract Changes
Xcel's SO-REC and Rebate Contracts (part of the Solar*Rewards application process) have been replaced, by the updated, more streamlined REC Purchase Contract. The REC Purchase Contract agreement will be used for Small Third Party Developers, Medium Tier 1, and Medium Tier 2 applications.
Contract Availability Changes
Both the new REC Purchase Contract and older SO-REC Contract have now become available at the end of the application process allowing for technical information specified in the contract to more accurately describe the system to be built.
What is the Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan?
Along with the new RESA Fair Share fees, Xcel has filed its 2012 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan. The plan shows Xcel's "continued work to meet the state’s renewable energy standard of 30 percent renewables by 2020."
As outlined in the compliance plan, Xcel Energy plans to acquire as much as 30 additional megawatts (double the amount required to meet the renewable energy standard) of customer-sited electricity.
How the Renewable Energy Standard Affects Xcel Energy's Compliance Plan
In compliance with House Bill 1001, 30% of utility retail electric sales must be supplied by a renewable energy source by the hear 2020.
However, House Bill 1001 amended previous regulations to allow utilities to seek only a certain percentage of their retail electrical sales from wholesale distributed generation (DG) or retail DG, with 50% of retail DG systems having to be located on-site at customers' facilities.
What this means is while 30% renewable energy may sound nice, utilities (like Xcel Energy) are only required to fill a small portion of their solar generated electricity from DG (aka, rooftop or other on-site solar systems). The rest may be pulled from utility scale solar arrays (utility operated solar farms).