In March 2008, it all sounded great. Xcel Energy announced that Boulder would be home to the very first smart grid in the country, and people loved it. City council members thought the idea was stupendous; environmentalists said it would help the average person conserve electricity — or at least spread out their electricity use so that peak loads could be diminished (and, therefore, so could peak-load plants that are most often run off of coal and natural gas).
But two years later, the smart grid doesn’t look as shiny as it once did. For one thing, costs have skyrocketed. At first, Xcel thought that it would cost the company about $15.3 million to actually build the grid, not including the cost of running and maintaining it. By May 2009, Xcel realized it was going to be far more, perhaps $27.9 million. Now, Xcel is guessing that total capital expenditures — we’re talking digging ditches for fiber cable and installing smart meters in people’s homes — will cost $42.1 million. Read more
Xcel Energy wants to change the way they give out incentives for customers to add solar power.
The new Solar Rewards program would give out more rebates, but the amounts will shrink over time.
Xcel Energy wants to add another 257 megawatts of solar power to the grid from on-site sources such as customer rooftops in the next decade, according to the company’s new renewable energy plan.
Last year, Xcel announced its intention to cut the Solar Rewards program — which gives rebates to customers who put photovoltaic panels on their property — by about 50 percent from 2009 to 2010. After an outcry from solar advocates, Xcel worked with the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association and the Governor’s Energy Office to revise its plan. Read more