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Xcel Chops Solar Incentives in Colorado

2/21/2011 10:51:27 AM

Tags: Xcel Energy, solar incentives, solar rebates, Colorado renewable energy, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailIn 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 Shopennjim logan solar house 

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Greg Koss
2/22/2011 2:29:48 PM
It is obvious that Xcel Energy took these actions with the intent of destroying Colorado's Solar industry and the competition it represents. Xcel has a distinct advantage in this battle as they are a monopoly with the power to fund political campaigns and pay lobbyists to the advantage of their shareholders, and simply pass the bill to Colorado electric customers. These types of actions by massive US corporations make it impossible for small business to function and will only lead to the rich getting richer, and a higher unemployment rate! - Colorado voters have sent a clear message that they want to increase clean energy use to help promote economic development. The program had been working well. Spurred by the passage of Amendment 37, there are now 5,300 solar jobs and more than 400 solar businesses in Colorado. Colorado is now the #2 state in the U.S. for solar jobs per capita. - Xcel Energy is using its monopoly to disrupt the market for clean energy and choke off competition. Xcel is now the 2nd major utility to suspend its solar program. Black Hills Energy in Pueblo suspended its solar program in October, which led to a 90% decrease in solar sales and significant job losses while customers wait for incentives to return. The Colorado economy can't afford a devastating similar crash statewide. An estimated 2,000-3,000 Colorado jobs will be lost by the end of the year unless there is a rapid restart to the state's successful solar program. Greg Koss

Andrew Michler
2/21/2011 11:26:22 PM
Robyn, Thanks for writing on this important development. I have many contacts in the solar industry and every one of them agree that this will devastate the industry. I have written a personal analysis as a follow up to the Inhabitat post of what I think Xcel is up on my company blog The story is certainly not over and I hope that those who have voices in their community not let this action go unnoticed. Take a look at those solar google adds on this page, those companies can soon be wiped out.

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