Colorado’s attempts to go greener have meant legislation addressing businesses, primarily, and do not mandate environmental changes at your house.
DENVER — With 300 days of it, selling sunshine in Colorado should not be difficult.
OK, that sunshine detail is a myth, but that doesn’t stop solar companies from marketing their product.
A couple in Lakewood have received numerous solicitations for solar panel installations.
“My husband and I just, generally, do not buy door-to-door. If we need it, we go get it,” Lakewood resident Gail Cartwright said.
Over the last two years, her and her husband have been visited several times by vendors soliciting solar panel installations.
“I didn’t have any inclination that it was going to be a ‘have to do,’ it was just, ‘this is going to happen’ and you get to choose now or later,” said Cartwright.
The two most recent solicitations came with handouts.
One, was a door hanger, that misspelled Xcel Energy’s name as “Excel.”
“As Excel [sic] works towards to 100% carbon free electricity, certain rate increases will now be applied to those who have yet to make the switch to renewable energy,” the door hanger stated.
Cartwright said that sounded like a requirement.
“I’m going to have to pay if I don’t switch to solar energy now,” she said.
“This seems to suggest that a customer that has decided not to put on rooftop solar is somehow going to get penalized with higher rates, and that’s just not true,” said Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Deputy Director Gene Camp.
The PUC regulates utilities in Colorado and the commissioners must approve or deny any rate increases equally.
“Customers [must] be treated the same, so basically there’s no preferential or discriminatory rate treatment that’s allowed,” said Camp.
A second handout at Cartwright’s door referenced a Senate Bill from 2019.
“Colorado bill (19-236) requires electric utilities to help homeowners convert to renewable energy to reach the state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).”
That bill from 2019, which became law, continued the work of the PUC through 2026, along with several changes to the state’s energy policy. There is one paragraph of the 64-page bill that gives customers the right to use renewable energy. It is not required of them to use.
The RPS that is referenced on the handout is really a 2004 ballot initiative that voters approved requiring utility companies to generate more electricity from renewable energy sources. This does not require residents to install solar panels.
“These people have all been making it sound very urgent,” said Cartwright.
Installing solar panels may be beneficial depending on the circumstances, but there is no state law that requires it. And if there is a rate increase, like the first door knocker described, it would apply to all customers the same, with or without solar panels. Customers bills would be different based on how much energy used and when it was used.
The PUC regulates utility companies, not door-to-door vendors making sales pitches about utility products. Door-to-door complaints would go to your local district attorney’s office or the Attorney General’s Office.
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