Posted by Severin Schneider at LP Colorado blog:
DENVER — Solar energy customers are worried a new fee proposed by Xcel Energy would punish new customers for getting solar panels.
I understand their anger.
I would like to point out a couple of things. First off it is illegal not to hook up to the grid in most places. It is also illegal to sell off extra electricity to your neighbors, you are required by law to only sell off extra electricity to the government granted monopoly power company. The third problem I see is that the government enforces Xcels monopoly and then claims that because they do, they then need to regulate it through government as the government has removed the natural regulation that comes with competition in an open market. This creates a situation where the victims (in this case the owners of solar panels) are forced to pay for a service they may or may not want, and their only recourse is to go to the PUC and beg them not to allow these fees by Xcel, Xcel on the other hand is also going to the PUC armed with lots of money and a knowledge of the law, often times they have personal relationships with the regulators, etc. So it may be that the solar owners will be the victors, but they are going into the battle at a disadvantage, and even if they win, it won’t be a win forever. Xcel will keep coming back and asking for this, Xcel stands to gain millions from the arbitrary decisions of a handful of bureaucrats, the solar panel guys stand to lose a few dollars a month, who has a stronger incentive to continue fight these rules?