Xcel Energy is proposing a new penalty on Colorado residents who generate their own renewable electricity.
The “infrastructure upkeep fee” could range between $20 and $200 per year, the Denver Post reports. Customers who buy and install their own solar panels would essentially be asked to keep paying for some of the energy they’re no longer using from Xcel’s electricity grid.
“It’s only fair everyone pay for the system,” an Xcel spokesman said, noting that the grid provides a “backup” for solar users.
Huh? Is there any other industry that could get away with proposing something like this? Your customers don’t need your product anymore, so you propose making them pay for it anyway, just in case they need it again someday?
What’s really going on here is the beginning of a potentially massive powershift, one in which Xcel and other large utilities’ customers are increasingly becoming the competition by generating their own electricity. Xcel has a strong record of supporting renewable energy, so long as it’s the one generating the profits.
Fast Company has an excellent article in the current issue about this emerging “microgrid” and how the big utilties are doing their best to crush it before their customers become too empowered.