COSSA intervened in the proceedings below in 2020 and secured theses wins.
Xcel’s 2020-21 Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan
- Community Solar Gardens capacity increased from 40 MW to 75 MW annually
- Increased capacity in the Large program (above 500 kW) by 43% to 20MW annually
- Eliminates production meter requirement for all new systems 10kW and smaller
- Denied PSCo’s request to for the discretion to modify its RE Plan mid-stream, without explicit commission approval
Xcel’s Time of Use Tariff
- According to COSSA analysis, the average homeowner who installs a system to offset 80% of their load (roughly 4kw), will see an annual electricity bill of $169 under this Time of Use tariff. That is over a $550 annual savings from the current Xcel flat volumetric tariff. Download our one-pager to get all the important details.
Investigation of Performance-Based Ratemaking
- This investigatory docket got the Commission discussing the best way to incentivize utilities to meet public policy and goals. The Interconnection proceeding may be a place where we see Performance-Incentive Metrics (PIMs) introduced to improve utility performance.
Distribution System Planning Investigation
- Our work on this proceeding led to a first-ever set of Distribution System Planning rules. Those proposed rules include:
- Frequency of DSP filing: In Proposed Rule 3528, the Commission proposes to require DSPs every two years. The first DSP will be required on or before Oct. 1, 2021.
- Forecast horizon: In Proposed Rule 3530, the Commission proposes 10-year forecasts, and adopts many of the other forecast requirements we proposed, including the three growth scenarios.
- Hosting Capacity Analysis (HCA): The proposed rules (Rule 3531(a)(II) and 3542) require utilities to develop a distributed generation HCA of the distribution system in the form of a color-coded map on the utility’s website. While initially less granular, the HCA maps should become more granular and frequently refreshed over time. The rules say the HCA must be updated at least quarterly to start with.
- Grid Needs Assessment (GNA): Proposed Rule 3532 requires a GNA to identify the need for critical capacity additions or NWAs that will be needed. The utility must post the GNA on its website.
- Grid Innovation: Proposed Rule 3522 allows for pilot projects to help integrate DER, new proposed programs, updates on existing programs, and a discussion of barriers to deployment of DER and NWA, including regulatory, economic, and technical barriers. Programs may include a focus on identifying locational benefits of DER, energy storage, and enhancing demand flexibility.
- NWA Cost Benefit Analysis: We suggested using the NSPM for DER. In Proposed Rule 3534 the Commission directs the utility to use the NSPM and to specifically include certain costs and benefits, but provides the utility flexibility to propose an alternative as well.
- Action Plan: Proposed Rule 3535 requires the utility to provide a 5 year action plan for the distribution system investments and activities, including plans to solicit the deployment of DER.
- NWA Suitability Screening: The Commission here provisionally adopts $2,000,000 thresholds in Proposed Rule 3536, but also asks how with those standards it can “continue to encourage NWA analysis and inclusion for smaller projects, which may provide a more reasonable starting point”.
- NWA RFP and Bid Monitor: Proposed Rule 3537 requires a competitive solicitation for NWAs, but doesn’t propose to require an NWA Coordinator, which we also recommended – however, it proposes a “bid monitor” instead, which serves some similar functions. The Commission says the purpose of the bid monitor is to make sure the utility releases sufficient information to prospective bidders in order to enable them to produce responses, and to mediate requests for additional information.
- Access to data/confidentiality: Proposed Rule 3539 states a DSP application is presumed non-confidential and the Commission’s rules on Customer Data Access and Confidentiality do not apply. In order to seek any confidential treatment, a utility must file a motion that includes a proposed approach to allow for full and fair public consideration of the DSP. Taken together with the bid monitor described above and the web portal described below (as well as HCA), the Commission’s language is pretty strong on access to information to enable DER solutions.
- Web portal: We proposed a web portal to include historic, current, and forecasts data for grid constraints and hosting capacity. Proposed Rule 3542 adopts this proposal, stating this will be the first time a large amount of information on the distribution system is provided in one secure source to allow stakeholders, Commission Staff, and ratepayers to benefit.
- Commission approval: In Proposed Rule 3541 the Commission proposes to give itself discretion to modify any DSP before approving it.
Community Solar Garden Rulemaking
- Improvements to goals and scope of rules to ensure they are geared to providing more access to solar by all customers
- Ensures older smaller CSGs can “grow” to new 5 MW size
- Sets the size of CSGs to 5 MW through June 2023 and 10 MW thereafter
- Changes CSG capacity to be measured in “AC” instead of “DC”
- Allows CSGs to be interconnected at the transmission level as well as the distribution level
- Provides for “eligible low income service providers” to meet parts of low income requirement
- Allows for electronic communications to update subscriber rolls
- Allows for a net meter to be used in place of a production meter if onsite load is minimal
- Allows customers with multiple accounts, such as municipalities, water districts, or school districts, to utilize their bill credits across their accounts, in the event the bill credits exceed the monthly usage of any single account
- Eliminates escrow requirement
- Requires utilities to include a separate line item on the bill for renewable energy credits to improve customer transparency.
- Implements legislative removal of “adjacent county” requirement
- Requires that the utility implement a standard offer program under which subscribers can elect to retain the RECs associated with the CSG generation – the standard offer may be at a differing price that would enable the CSG subscribers to keep the RECs generated by the CSG rather than transfer ownership to the utility
Electric Rules Relating to Interconnection
NOTE – the Commission has not yet adopted final rules and still must approve the Recommended Decision, so none of these are finalized “wins,” but we are feeling good about these.
- Directs utilities to consider whether energy storage is exporting or non-exporting in applying screens.
- Exempts smaller energy storage (below 25kW) from any additional metering requirements
- Increases Level 1 screen threshold from 10kW to 25 kW
- Makes clear all capacity is examined in AC, not DC
- Requires utilities to file tariffs for approval with any specific interconnection fees
- Must also file interconnection manuals as part of the tariff filing
- Requires utilities to report on metrics such as whether they have met timelines laid out in rules
- Imposes timelines for level 3 studies
- Allows a developers to combine all level 3 studies into one shorter combined study process
- Ensure rules apply to all state jurisdictional interconnections, regardless of size or location
- Added specificity for when a modification is actually material, thus requiring a new application
- Allows a smaller project to demonstrate site control by simply signing the interconnection application
- Forbids “no capacity notices” and requires a utility to study interconnection so long as the developer is willing to pay for the studies
- Allows an interconnection customer to arrange for upgrades using their own contractors
- Removes insurance requirements below 1 MW and lowers requirements for other sized systems
- Shortens certain deadlines in the Level 1 and Level 2 processes
Mother of All Rulemaking
- No final rules yet, but we expect new ERP rules to require examination of early retirements for existing fossil resources for Xcel, Black Hills and Tri-State.
Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA) Reduction according to the Colorado Energy Plan
- This proceeding was to formalize an agreement from 2017 to allow Xcel to use the RESA to pay off coal generation assets. However, it morphed into a RESA sunset at the end of XXXX. COSSA will be fighting in 2021 to reverse this decision and get the RESA extended until, at least, 2030.
COSSA Community Solar Garden Petition 5MW colocation of installations
- COSSA asked for, and was granted, the ability to colocate community solar gardens of up to 5MW as the 2019 law allowed. This brings down costs for developers and subscribers.
Tri-State’s Report Regarding Existing Resources
- COSSA argued that several of the old natural gas peaker plants on Tri-State’s system should be shut down. Tri-State agreed in their follow up Electric Resource Plan filing. Now the battle turns to when those resources will be retired and how to replace them with solar+storage.
Want to get more involved in legislative or regulatory policy? Drop a line to Cathy Boies at CBoies@cossa.co. Additionally, make sure to join our Policy Committee to contribute your thoughts and concerns about these proceedings.