Solar Citizen, April 24, 2014

Xcel Calls Us Irresponsible

In April, Xcel Energy aired a one-minute TV ad titled “Doing Solar Right.” It begins this way:

At Xcel Energy, we believe in solar energy in a big way – in the right way. 

 The point of the ad is that solar should be big, not small. Xcel would like us to think that when power come from very large utility-scale solar farms, financed by ratepayer charges, it “lets everyone enjoy the benefits of solar,  equally and fairly.” But when we get solar from rooftops, financed by homeowners, the homeowners are somehow cheating everyone else.

Bragging how much renewable energy it already provides, Xcel crows “We didn’t get here by thinking small.”

The ad airs in Xcel’s service areas in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. If you’re outside one of those areas, you can see it at xcelenergy.com/responsiblesolar

Responsible solar? Xcel would have voters think that rooftop solar is . . . irresponsible?

Really?

Please write to Xcel and tell them where to get off. Email boardofdirectors at xcelenergy.com. The chairman and CEO is Ben Fowke.

For background on this story, see Utilities Try to Roll Back Net Metering.

Oklahoma to Penalize Rooftop Solar

Oklahoma citizens have until Nov. 1 to connect new grid-tied solar and wind generators without incurring a fixed monthly charge. Nov. 1 is the effective date of a new “solar surcharge,” signed into law April 21 by Governor Mary Fallin. Existing solar arrays and wind turbines, and those commissioned before Nov. 1, are grandfathered in at existing connection charges.

The new law provides that no electric utility company “shall allow customers with distributed generation . . . to be subsidized by customers . . . who do not have distributed generation.”

The new law provides that “A higher fixed charge for customers . . . that have distributed generation . . . is a means to avoid subsidization between customers . . . and shall be deemed in the public interest.”

The amount of the surcharge is yet to be determined. Utilities are directed to implement new tariffs by Dec. 31, 2014. More

Poll: Hawaiians Want More Solar

 A new opinion poll reveals that Hawaiian Electric (HECO) has a significant public image problem: an overwhelming number of Hawaii residents (94%) support more rooftop solar, and 90% believe that HECO is slowing rooftop solar to protect its profits.

The poll confirms that most residents are very familiar with and supportive of rooftop solar; a third have family members with solar, and more than half have neighbors with solar. Hawaii residents are accustomed to seeing rooftop solar in their communities and they want to see even more of it in the future.

The poll was conducted by Honolulu-based polling firm SMS and commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), an organization that represents the majority of rooftop solar installations in the United States, including more than seven thousand projects in Hawaii.

“While it should be a point of pride that Hawaii has the highest solar per capita in the country, it shouldn’t give us any reason to slow down,” said Jon Yoshimura, a Hawaii spokesperson for TASC. “The people of Hawaii clearly want and expect more rooftop solar, and are looking to both HECO and to policymakers to advance policies that help increase access for homes and businesses.”

Responses revealed that Hawaii residents are adopting solar not only to save money, but also to drive energy independence for the state. Respondents also accurately identified oil dependence and lack of competition in the utility sector as top reasons driving utility rates.

“Hawaii’s energy landscape is rapidly changing and we need to adopt new policies and business models that support the public’s desire to produce their own clean, homegrown energy,” Yoshimura continued.

Less than half of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of HECO, while 95% have a favorable view of solar power companies. When respondents were informed that the number of solar permits just hit a two year low on Oahu, half said their opinion of HECO declined even further. In short, HECO’s public image is in danger if the utility continues to fall short of public expectations for rooftop solar.

“I decided to go solar for environmental and financial reasons?. I was delayed for months–many peoples’ interconnection approvals are delayed for years by the utility as a stalling tactic,” said Nancy Robberson, retired schoolteacher from Kula, Hawaii. “Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries should not get in the way of more solar here. Harnessing the sun’s power should be an ‘inalienable right for all.” More

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Copyright 2014 by the American Solar Energy Society

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