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Save Colorado Solar! Join Rally for Clean Energy Jobs Friday, February 25, 2011 at 12pm at Capital

February 23 2011 - 1:55:13:pm by Greg

Rally for Clean Energy Jobs - Join Us!
Friday, February 25, 2011 at 12pm
Colorado State Capitol - West Steps, Denver

Xcel is trying to destabilize the market for clean energy and choke off competition to protect its own monopoly. Last week Xcel suspended its solar program without stakeholder input or due process, reducing choices for consumers and putting thousands of jobs at risk. This comes on the heels of Black Hills Energy suspending its solar program. Don't let big monopoly utilities pull the plug on solar. Join us at the Rally for Clean Energy Jobs this Friday, February 25 at the Colorado State Capitol, west steps. Please spread the word!




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Xcel Stops Solar Rebate Program and Pulls the Plug on 400+ Colorado Solar Businesses

February 18 2011 - 1:01:01:pm by Greg

 

On February 17, 2011 at 1:10 MST Xcel announced that it had stopped accepting new applications for the solar rebate program they have been responsible for managing in Colorado since 2005, and officially put an end to business for the 400+ small solar businesses founded on the incentives passed by Colorado voters.  Ironically, these are the same small Colorado solar businesses that have helped Xcel fulfill its solar generation requirements and lower costs over the past 5 years.  Yesterday, in a meeting closed to the media, and with only 30 conference call lines available for 4oo+ solar companies, Xcel announced that it had closed the door on solar rebates less than 26 hours after alerting the solar industry of its drastic plans to slash incentives by 88%.  Although Xcel stated they had been working on a plan to reduce rebates for months, Xcel executives and lawyers said they did not feel it necessary to contact a single person in the solar industry ahead of their announcement to make drastic reductions in solar rebates to Colorado’s already struggling solar industry.  Rather, Xcel believed it was more responsible to stray from their tiered rebate reduction and surprise Colorado’s Solar Industry with sudden and drastic solar rebate cuts.  In the past 8 months prior to Xcel’s most recent solar rebate cuts,  I am aware of at least three of Colorado’s largest residential solar installation companies who have already either filed for bankruptcy or ended their residential solar business due to Xcel’s already insufficient and quickly dropping solar rebate levels.  

During Xcel’s meeting with Colorado solar installers yesterday, Pam Newell (Xcel Energy Director of Solar Rewards Program) said that Xcel believed that existing solar incentives were too high, and therefore saw it necessary to slash rebates.  At the same time, the writing is on the wall with Xcel’s plans to use the “Solar Gardens” legislation they lobbied to pass in 2010 to build, own, and operate massive solar power generation systems.  After Xcel has successfully destroyed the Colorado’s solar industry they will be eager to use the 2% RESA monies they currently collect from Colorado ratepayers to purchase and own massive solar projects, rather than providing solar rebates to home and business owners who wish to build their own solar generation.  Xcel actions have made obvious their intentions to stop individual citizens of Colorado from installing solar on homes and businesses to hedge their electric costs and gain energy independence.  In the months and years ahead as Xcel begins building its “Solar Gardens” each with thousands of solar panels.   Xcel will work directly with the world’s largest solar installation companies, and Chinese solar manufacturers to attain rock bottom prices for products and take advantage of economies of scale.  Xcel will then import solar installation crews and designers from anywhere in the world and install their new massive solar projects in a matter of weeks, all but eliminating the need for Colorado labor.  This is great for Xcel’s CEO Richard who doubled his compensation in 2009 pocketing more than $11,000,000, but has catastrophic effects for the 5,000+ Colorado families who currently depend on the solar industry to pay their bills, not to mention any rate payers who may have been waiting to install a solar system on their homes. With the Solar Industry destroyed, Xcel is the big winner!  Xcel will own and control a majority of Colorado’s solar generation and will have successfully eliminated a majority of the solar advocates getting who have been getting it Xcel’s way by focused on providing access to clean energy to Colorado’s citizens. Xcel has told Colorado’s solar industry that because we have been so successful, (reducing our installed costs to homeowners by more than 40% in the past 5 years wink our industry no longer needs current support levels to survive.  Although, solar panel prices have gone down in recent years (coupled with the great recession in our country,) solar panel prices have flattened in recent months, and meanwhile labor and materials costs have continued to increased …  Xcel is well aware of these facts!  These rising costs and the looming expiration of the 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar in at the end of 2011 have already created uncertainty and make it difficult for the solar businesses in Colorado to make sustainable long term plans.  What are Xcel’s plans for solar rebates in 2012 after the 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar expires?

 What are Xcel’s plans for the all of the students who are currently enrolled in solar training programs at schools around Colorado?  What are Xcel’s plans for the hundreds of unemployed Coloradans who recently paid to be retrained to enter Colorado’s solar industry?  As a result of Xcel’s irresponsible actions these Colorado students have no future, yet must continue to pay tuition!  What penalty does Xcel face for these actions? I find it ironic that CEO Richard Kelly’s compensation will likely increase in 2011, despite his company’s overt attempt to destroy Colorado’s solar industry. 

Since it began administering the solar program, Xcel has made up the rules as they have felt necessary.  Xcel requires solar installers to provide them with an itemized final invoice for our project detailing component costs, along with detailed solar design plans and signed contracts engineered by and for Xcel.  If installers do not meet any of Xcel’s demands or requirements for information, Xcel simply denies payment of rebate monies.  Although Xcel is able to require valuable information, and use this information as it feels appropriate, Xcel does not allow solar companies or customers access to any of this required information.  So, although Xcel has exclusive access to the best information about Colorado’s solar industry, they claim that they believed no harm would be done to Colorado’s solar industry by slashing its solar rebate to solar installers without notice.  This is a blatant lie, Xcel Energy was well aware that these actions would destroy the local solar industry in Colorado, and made their decision to slash rebates with the direct intent of ending Colorado’s solar industry.   Xcel MUST be held accountable for their negligent and these harmful actions!  If Xcel is not punished, it will set a dangerous precedence moving forward for Colorado’s ratepayers who are faced with Xcel energy as monopoly electrical provider for their homes.  Xcel spends a great deal of ratepayer money for advertising, lawyers and lobbyists to buy political favor, and change Colorado laws in a way that positively affect Xcel’s profits.  Xcel already knows they hold the political trump card, over the small solar industry with limited money and resources.  The affects of Xcel’s past lobbing efforts and current political power were made evident in an email sent by Colorado’s Governors Energy Office (GEO) supporting Xcel’s plans to slash rebates.  Coincidentally, the GEO sent this email to installer’s only hours after Xcel’s meeting announcing they had stopped accepting new solar applications.  Xcel’s primary motivation is making as much money as possible; and they have shown their true colors…  If drastic changes are not made, Xcel ratepayers will continue to face large electric rate hikes so that Xcel can continue to support high executive salaries and increased dividend payments its shareholders.

 These irresponsible actions by Xcel have already done considerable damage to Adobe Solar! If pre-February 16, 2011 rebates are not reinstated immediately, Adobe Solar and the other 400+ small solar companies built on Amendment 37 are certain to be out of business in the coming months. Even if Xcel reinstates pre-February 16th solar rebate today, it will take months of hard work and thousands of dollars before Adobe Solar will be able to get back to profitability. As a result of Xcel’s negligent actions yesterday Adobe Solar was forced to begin turning away customers for the first time since opening doors in 2005.  In less than 24 hours since Xcel made this announcement, Adobe Solar has already lost more than $100,000 in new business, some of which our company had using resources to win since fall of 2010.   If significant action is not taken immediately Adobe Solar will likely close our doors before summer 2011. 

During the solar installer meeting with Xcel, Pam Newell announced that Xcel had decided to reduce rebates because the existing rebates were too high and Colorado’s solar market was over incentivized.  Xcel knew very well the harm that they would do to Colorado’s solar industry ahead of their announcement to slash solar rebates, yet Xcel  staff responsible for this decision did not even do as much as pick up the phone to ask anyone in the solar industry how their drastic changes may affect Colorado’s solar industry.  Rather than working with Colorado’s solar industry to create a sustainable path forward, Xcel pulled the plug on more than 400 of Colorado’s small businesses with less than 26 hours notice!

These actions show very clearly that Xcel has a significant conflict of interest managing the 2% RESA and the solar program in Colorado.  Desperate actions by Xcel call for desperate measures, and I firmly believe that the responsibility for managing the solar program for Xcel Energy customers can no longer be controlled by Xcel Energy.  During the past 5 years Colorado’s solar industry has often asked for clarity into the program, but Xcel provided less and less transparency as time has moved forward.

Please help to reinstate Xcel’s Solar Rebate to pre-February 16th levels as soon as possible, and put 2% RESA funds in the hand of a third party administrator with a vested interest in creating a sustainable solar industry in Colorado.  We must save Colorado’s solar industry, and protect Colorado citizens!

Very Truly,

Greg Koss

Owner

Adobe Solar




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Xcel Slashes Solar Rebates and has future plans that would kill Colorado’s Solar Industry

February 17 2011 - 11:10:39:am by Greg

 

Yesterday afternoon Xcel Energy sent local Colorado solar installers an email (below) stating that effective immediately they had cut solar incentives for Colorado homeowners by another 15%, and are asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for permission to drop the solar rebate provided to Colorado homeowners to $.26/watt, a 96% reduction from Xcel's original solar rebate of $4.50/watt in a span of less than 3 years.  Xcel plans to build its own and operate its own solar electrical generation facilities or “Solar Gardens,” rather than loosing homeowners as electrical customers to a solar electric system installed on homes.  If Xcel is successful in their requests to the PUC , Colorado's 100+ solar installers are sure to be out of business before the end of 2011. Those interested in gaining a clean energy education, Colorado is unlikely to be hiring any solar installers in the near future! The main problem is that Xcel completely controls the solar rebate program for all of their Colorado customers.  For some reason Xcel  is not perusing the idea of raising bonds to pay for new solar generation as they do for their coal generation facilities, or asking for a larger collection rate.  Colorado’s solar incentives need to controlled and operated by an independent third party, who has a vested interest in Colorado’s electrical rate payers long term future, and in promoting a sustainable clean energy industry and new jobs in Colorado.  Xcel currently creates the rules for their solar rebates; decide how these rebates will be structured, what information must be provided and when rebates will fall.  Xcel will hold a meeting tomorrow at 1:30p to discuss these issues. I highly encourage you to attend!

Xcel Meeting details:

Thursday, February 17

1:30 - 3:00 pm

Xcel Energy offices at 1800 Larimer, Room 03G01, Denver

Call-in number: 612-330-7955, ID 4715

 

Please help to save our industry and solar jobs in Colorado!




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Solar for Valentines Day!

February 02 2011 - 11:13:12:am by Greg

Who said solar isn't for lovers.  Take this once a year opportunity to give the one you love the gift of a new solar electric system before Xcel reduces solar rebates.




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