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Electrical cooperative says new rates needed to help sustain electrical grid as it nears 100% carbon free energy. Solar installers see it very differently.

Holy Cross Energy, the electrical cooperative with more than 50,000 members in the Eagle and Roaring Fork Valleys as well as downstream in the Rifle area, is revamping its rate structure.

Solar providers and their statewide organization, Colorado Solar and Storage Association, are not pleased with what Holy Cross plans.

The utility wants to shift some costs for operating the electrical grid to owners of solar systems that currently enjoy attractive net-metering arrangements.

In an op/ed published April 13 in The Aspen Times, Mike Kruger, the chief executive of the trade organization, reports head-scratching.

“The new proposal is a wet blanket for solar adoption in the region and will heavily impact small electricity consumers—those who are struggling to make ends meet,” he writes.

The new rate structure proposes to provide only partial credit for electricity generated by rooftop solar installations. This, he says, would violate Colorado’s 2008 net-metering law, which requires uniformity across utilities. Plans by Holy Cross would also create inequities for future solar adopters.

“Our analysis shows that despite the 2% average overall increase in rates across the entire Holy Cross membership—the goal stated by Holy Cross‚ there is a dramatic difference for individual members based on home size and consumption,” he writes.

“When fully implemented in 2025, smaller homes and townhomes/condos stand to see bill increases in the range of 8%-18%. Conversely, larger homes (4,500-6,000 square feet) could see their bills drop by 4%-17%.


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Earlier, in an April 9 story, the Vail Daily’s Scott Miller talked with Rich Clubine, owner of Active Energies, a local solar farm (co-founded by PUC commissioner Megan Gilman) since 2017. Clubine has been telling customers that the payback on solar systems with the existing rate structure is 8 to 10 years. With the revisions, the payback would lengthen to 21 to 22  years.

Bryan Hannegan, the chief executive of Holy Cross, said that Holy Cross is looking into the future about how to recover the costs of operating the grid. Of the utility’s current rate, 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, about 3.5 cents pays for electricity. The rest goes to operating and maintaining the grid. Holy Cross, he said, needs to recover its costs.

In the same article, Kruger said that Holy Cross is “solving a problem that’s a decade off.”

The cooperative is taking comments until April 30 with plans of instituting the new rate structure in September.

Other electrical cooperatives are paying close attention to the Holy Cross story.


Allen Best
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