May 2021

As the Colorado legislature enters the home stretch, many energy bills are still in play and some are sure to be hotly debated until the end of the session. We'll provide a roundup of what happened next month, but if you want to express your views now, here is where you can track what is happening with particular bills:  Information about bills and legislators

After a damp and cool spring on Colorado's Front Range, the sun will soon heat up our region and we'll be worrying about cooling rather than heating our homes. The rates charged by utilities determine what we pay, but the way those rates are calculated are subject to lots of different influences. This month, we take a look at energy rates and how they are changing or need to change to accommodate more renewables on the grid.

Most importantly, we want to give you a chance to weigh in on these important decisions.
Public Hearing on Electric Rates

Xcel Energy is proposing to reallocate electric costs among different groups of customers, and you can share your views at a remote public hearing Thursday May 13 starting at 4 p.m. before a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) law judge.
If approved by the PUC, rates for typical residential electric customers would increase by $4.85 a month, or 6.65 percent; while rates for commercial electric customers would rise very slightly. Monthly rates for typical large industrial and commercial customers would decrease.
Xcel is also is proposing to: eliminate the summer tiered rate structure for residential customers; establish a permanent time-of-use rate option for residential and small commercial customers; and implement a voluntary flat bill payment offering for residential customers that allows a customized, fixed monthly bill amount for utility services.
To participate remotely follow these instructions
To file written comments for proceeding 20AL-0432E: click here
All documents in the case are here with a summary of key issues below
Time of Use Rates are Coming
Xcel plans a permanent Time of Use rate for both residential and small commercial customers. As advanced meters are installed over the next couple of years, they will become the default rate.  With meters that measure energy use every 15 minutes, both customers and Xcel will have more ability to know and control their energy use.

The higher on-peak rate will be in effect from 3 to 7 P.M. each weekday (except holidays). Off-peak rates on weekdays (7 P.M. to 1 P.M. the next day), plus all day weekends and holidays will charge the least. “Shoulder’’ rates would offer rates in-between. The rate case will make a final decision on whether rates will be different in summer and winter.

Xcel is not proposing Time of Use rates for larger customers, but many renewable advocates want them included.
Making Demand Charges Less Onerous
A key disincentive for larger commercial and public building owners to install solar energy is that so much of the bill consists of a “demand charge’’ based on the highest energy use in a short period.

The City and County of Denver wrote in the rate case: “The perception begins to emerge that demand charges are the only cost that matters….Despite reducing demand due to changes in energy use patterns, solar deployment, or otherwise, the City’s facilities are still subject to billed demand charges that may be higher than the actual demand used on several months of the year.’’

Some of those involved in the rate case are asking for a pilot of Time of Use rates for large customers. For example, a solar expert wrote that such a rate ``provides more accurate price signals that has the potential to smooth out peak demands and create cost savings for all customers in the form of reduced future capacity needs.'' If you are a commercial customer hurt by demand charges, it is very important you participate in the Thursday hearing.

Currently, these “demand charges’’ don’t apply to residential customers of Xcel. But some are worried that unless the use threshold is raised, customers who charge an electric car or two may well hit the level at which these fees can wipe out their savings. Thus, many EV proponents want to raise the level at which demand charges would kick in.
"Solar Surcharge'' in Electrical Rates

Some utilities charge customers generating their own solar power an additional fee.
In Longmont, where the city owns the electric utility, the “Residential Self Generation Rate” charges customers using their own solar power an additional $5.20 per month. It was higher until solar owners protested.
In Loveland, where the city also owns the electric utility, a similar surcharge is applied.
Rooftop solar owners argue that the state's net metering law calls for non-discriminatory rates and that the special fees are in violation of that law.
They also note that the fees do not account for the cost of the carbon pollution caused by burning fossil fuels for traditional electric generation.
If you live in one of these cities, you can contact your city council representative to share your views.
A new way to charge for power

“Time Of Renewables/TOR” is a new concept championed by Boulder energy modeler Ken Regelson. He works on how we can reliably feed our energy hunger with carbon-free but intermittent renewables like solar and wind. 
Regelson shows that we can solve both cost and reliability problems if we move to strategically charge the ever growing number of electric vehicles when we have a surplus of renewable power. In his scenario, you would get paid to charge smarter because it reduces the utility’s need for dedicated battery storage and costly overbuilding. Regelson’s presentation “Making Miles While the Sun Shines” is here:
See How You Can Save on Energy Bills
To save money on your energy bills, a variety of home improvements can help. Some of the most sustainable homes around are at your fingertips through the virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.

You can see energy-saving technologies in action including solar electricity from PV panels, Solar heat from thermal panels, air source and ground source heat pumps, and state-of-the-art efficiency measures throughout. You can find tips for your home by watching videos and listening to expert lectures from top pros.

SAVE THE DATES: 2021 IN-PERSON TOUR September 11 in Chaffee County,
October 2 in Denver area
Join Our Community and Take Action!
Solar CitiSuns are people who want to join together to help transform the energy landscape by advocating for solar energy and other clean energy sources for the future. It is free, quick and easy to sign up! By joining our community, you can keep informed and join others in taking action.

Please follow our Facebook Page, and share this email with your friends and colleagues, and on social media using the links below. We are stronger together!
Upcoming Events

Thursday, May 20, 2021 7 p.m.
Roadmap to 1 Million EVs by 2030: Colorado Consumer Journey and Barriers
Webinar sponsored by Metro Denver CRES: Register here

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 7 p.m.
State-Level Agrivoltaic Policy: The Next Pioneer of the American West?
Sponsored by BCRES
Three Stories We Think You'll Want to Read or Watch

Energy Tips: From Cheap to Steep
"Time Of Use" electricity rates charge more when it costs more to produce energy, usually at times of peak use such as late afternoon and early evening. You can have a big impact on what you pay by changing when you use the most energy. Below are some tips:
1) Place warning signs around the kitchen for reminders of new habits
2) Install an outside thermometer to be aware when to close windows
3) Delay using your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer until late evening
1) Buy energy efficient appliances that let you delay starting until late night
2) Join a Community Solar Garden to get electricity from the sun
1) Add solar photovoltaic panels to your roof to make electricity
2) Add battery backup to your rooftop solar system to use some of the energy late at night or early in the morning

For the full article go to: From Cheap to Steep| newenergycolorado

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Produced for New Energy Colorado by Rebecca Cantwell