Colorado Among the First States to Allow Consumers to Store Energy from Renewable Sources
Colorado has granted electricity users in the state a new right — the ability to store energy without discrimination in rates or excessive barriers in connecting to the grid.
“This is declared to be a right and that is an important statement,” said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of COSEIA, a trade group that represents the solar energy industry in the state.
Battery prices have dropped enough that more households and businesses can afford them to capture the surplus electricity they generate from renewable sources.
Utilities in some states have tried to block battery systems, which can present safety concerns but which also reduce their control over the grid. A few years back, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, proposed different rates for customers with battery systems, which the solar industry opposed, Cantwell said.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 9 into law, making Colorado one of the first states in the country in which utility customers have a right to store energy.
Xcel has just a dozen or so customers with battery storage systems, although more requests are pending, said Mark Stutz, a spokesman for the company, which was neutral on the bill.
A goal in establishing storage as a right is that the principle will guide the Colorado Public Utilities Commission as it crafts rules on integrating battery systems, Cantwell said. Standardization should smooth adoption.
“We have been collaborating with Xcel to figure it all out. It encourages them to figure it out with us,” she said.
Storage will become more important as renewable sources, which are usually intermittent, become a bigger part of the electricity generation mix. Utilities are also moving to a system where customers pay more to use electricity in peak periods, and storage systems could help lower those costs.
“This bill is another step in Colorado’s path to a clean and renewable energy future. We need this kind of forward thinking so that Coloradans can take advantage of clean energy technologies, save money, and support energy independence,” said Jim Alexee, director of the Sierra Club’s Colorado Chapter.