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Xcel reaches sweeping agreement on Colorado renewable energy, pricing

Namaste Solar employees put solar panels on a house near 35th and Decatur in Denver.

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal

Xcel Energy Inc. says it has has reached a sweeping settlement agreement on renewable energy and pricing that could change the way electricity is produced and paid for in Colorado — if state regulators sign off on it.

The settlement covers three proposals the power utility has submitted to state regulators: One to change its customer rate structure, another to create a community solar program, and a third to add more renewable energy to its portfolio.

The agreement, filed Monday with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, involves 22 of the 26 groups that are parties to one or more of those efforts, which Minneapolis-based Xcel (NYSE: XEL) is pushing in the state as part of its “Our Energy Future” plan. After months of negotiations, the 22 entities agreed either to the entire settlement or to pieces of it.

“It will allow us to meet our customers’ expectations by giving them more control over their energy choices. It will bring more renewable and carbon-free energy to Colorado through the use of new technologies, and it will be provide affordable and reliable energy to further power the state’s economy, ” Jackson said.

Solar-power interests hailed the agreement.

“The solar industry will create more jobs and produce more affordable clean energy because we have settled these issues, ’’ said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group for the solar power industry in Colorado.

The parties to the settlement includes some of the state’s biggest cities, its biggest electricity users and major environmental advocacy groups.

They include the cities of Denver and Boulder; CF&I Steel L.P., which operates a Pueblo steel mill;limax Molybdenum Co., which operates the Henderson Mine in Clear Creek County; the state and national solar power trade groups; and Western Resource Advocates, an environmental advocacy group that focuses on policy issues.

Also signing on to the agreement are the Colorado PUC’s own staff; the Office of Consumer Counsel, the state agency that represents residential consumers before the PUC; and NextEra Energy Resources LLC, the world’s largest wind and solar power generator.

It does not cover Xcel’s separate proposal to buy and install about $500 million worth of sophisticated electricity meters, which can collect and provide more information about when and how much electricity is used throughout a day.

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