Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Commerce City Opposes Xcel Energy’s Solar Rebate Reduction

city council encourages utility, industry to reach compromise

COMMERCE CITY – The City Council of Commerce City unanimously approved a resolution tonight opposing the Public Service Company of Colorado’s (Xcel Energy) request to excessively reduce solar rebates for small-scale solar power home and business systems. The resolution also supported the Public Utilities Commission in advancing a more equitable agreement between both the utility company and solar companies, resulting in rebate amounts that would support the recovery of Colorado’s economy in a more sustainable manner.

“In the last year, Commerce City has taken steps to become a more sustainable city,” said Mayor Paul Natale. “We just installed 429 photovoltaic panels on the civic center roof that will reduce the building’s energy usage by 30 percent – or more than $11,000 annually. This effort would have been cost-prohibitive without the solar rebate program.”

Xcel’s rebate program, funded by a two percent surcharge on customer’s monthly bills, resulted in 5,300 solar jobs and more than 400 solar businesses throughout Colorado. It is anticipated more than 75 percent of those jobs could be lost if the rebate program is eliminated.

“The global economic crisis made it difficult to operate businesses and had a negative effect on municipalities such as Commerce City, added Mayor Pro Tem Tracey Snyder. “City Council took steps to support local businesses by implementing a unique incentive program for new and existing businesses. One key aspect was providing additional funds for “green” improvements – like solar energy – to support the city’s sustainability commitments.”

A 2009 energy audit identified nearly $2 million in improvements to increase the energy efficiency of the city’s municipal buildings. The city also is developing a sustainable community strategic plan, creating short-and long-term strategies that accomplish substantive, specific, and enduring sustainability goals and objectives for Commerce City.

“Clean energy businesses are extremely important to Commerce City’s long-term economic growth and development,’ said Councilor Dominck Moreno, who sponsored the resolution. “Regulatory changes such as those proposed by Xcel negatively impact our ability to be successful. We are optimistic that the company and industry can reach a compromise as directed by the Public Utilities Commission that benefits the Colorado economy.”