In a rotten blow to Colorado’s solar industry, Xcel Energy announced last week that it would slash its solar incentive program by nearly 50 percent, the Boulder Daily Camera reports. Xcel—Colorado’s largest utility—said it would decrease its Solar Rewards rebates for customers who install small solar arrays from $2.35 to $1.25 per watt. Renewable energy advocates say it would devastate the industry.
"In one move, Xcel would slash the incentives to such a degree that it would fundamentally destabilize the marketplace," Neal Lurie, executive director of the Boulder-based Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, told the Daily Camera. "They are nuking small businesses."
Xcel states that the cuts are in response to the solar industry’s rapid growth and increasingly available federal subsidies. "We established Solar Rewards to stimulate interest in installing solar systems on homes and businesses, and to make sure the technology is part of Colorado's energy mix," said David Eves, president and CEO of Xcel's Colorado operations, in a news release. "The program has been successful in doing that."
Blake Jones, president and chief executive officer of Namaste Solar in Boulder, said the cuts "would effectively kill Colorado's solar market, and along with it, hundreds of solar companies like Namaste Solar and thousands of jobs. This is our worst nightmare come true."
Colorado’s rebate program was the nation’s first to be adopted by voter ballot in 2004, Andrew Michler reports in Inhabitat. “Xcel’s actions completely undermine the public’s intention for a vibrant Colorado solar industry and puts thousands of solar energy jobs at risk,” he states.
Solar projects such as this home by Boulder architect Jim Logan could be endangered. Photo by Michael Shopenn