New Poll Shows 78% of Coloradans Support Net Metering and Reject Xcel’s Proposal to Roll Back the Policy

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According to a new poll, nearly four in five Colorado voters (78%) support net metering, adamantly rejecting Xcel’s proposal to change this successful policy. Poll results show that statewide support for net metering exceeds 70% in every region around the state and is greater than 60% across all of the key voter groups in Colorado.

According to a new poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Keating Research, nearly four in five Colorado voters (78%) support net energy metering (NEM), adamantly rejecting Xcel’s proposal to change this successful policy. The research team surveyed 400 voters throughout Colorado during the period of November 17-19, 2013. Poll results show that statewide support for net metering exceeds 70% in every region around the state and is greater than 60% across all of the key voter groups in Colorado.

The poll found that 78% percent of Coloradans support NEM, with nearly half (45%) strongly in support. Only 11% of the state’s electorate indicate opposition to the policy, with a mere 5% strongly opposed, and another 11% unsure of their views on the policy.

According to the poll, Coloradans aspire to have much more rooftop solar in the future, and intend to benefit from net metering’s fair credit: 47% of the state’s voters said they currently don’t have rooftop solar but are interested in going solar someday. Among these respondents, 80% oppose Xcel’s proposal to change NEM. More interesting, even among the 46% of state residents who are not interested in obtaining rooftop solar, more than two-thirds oppose Xcel’s proposed change to net metering. 

A recent study commissioned by Vote Solar and undertaken by Crossborder Energy indicates that the financial benefits of net metered power outweigh the costs associated with net metering in Colorado, showing that in Colorado, NEM delivers a $7-11 million annual benefit to all Xcel ratepayers – depending on the price of natural gas, and the future cost of greenhouse gas regulations. By delivering electricity locally at the source of consumption, the policy reduces the need for expensive infrastructure power lines, and over time reduces the need to purchase expensive and polluting fossil fuels.

“Xcel wants to undermine fair and successful policies that increase the use of clean, local energy in our state,” said Meghan Nutting, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and Director of Policy and Electricity Markets for SolarCity. “Xcel’s plan is the exact wrong approach. It makes no sense to discourage individuals from generating their own rooftop solar energy in a state that has 300 days of sunshine a year.”

Xcel’s attack on net metering comes on the heels of several similar attempts by utilities nationwide to suppress rooftop solar. The attacks follow the prescription of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), an association of investor-owned electric companies in the U.S., which recently identified distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar as “the largest near-term threat to the utility model.”

With bipartisan support growing for solar, utilities fighting it have been unable to win on this issue. This summer, net metering was upheld in Idaho and Louisiana in spite of utility attempts to undermine it. That was followed by California passing new legislation that strengthened net metering

Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, proposed a solar customer fee of $27.80 per month for homeowners with a typical 5kW solar system. Recently the utility dropped the proposal after experiencing overwhelming commission and staff disapproval.

For most of this year, Arizona Public Service (APS), the state’s largest utility, battled with solar advocates over net metering. The utility filed a request at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), which regulates rates for most of the state’s utilities, to impose a $50-100 charge for customers participating in the NEM program. In one of various attempts to make the ACC rule in favor of APS, the utility contributed money to two nonprofits that helped manufacture an elaborate controversy around solarLast month, the ACC instituted a charge of $0.70 per kilowatt for future APS customers who install solar PV — which amounts to about $5 a month. The charge, to take effect on January 1, 2014, is still more than no charge, which the solar industry lobbied for — but it’s much lower than the charge APS proposed.

“Monopoly utilities across the country, like Xcel, continue to fail repeatedly in their attempts to stop solar competition.” commented Bryan Miller, TASC President and VP of Public Policy for Sunrun. “In every net metering battle, from Idaho, to Louisiana, to California, to Arizona, states have preserved net metering.The verdict of 2013 is that net metering is here to stay.”