Xcel Energy Under Fire. As the popularity of solar energy continues to rise, many customers and installers are facing a major obstacle: delays in connecting their solar systems to the grid. In Colorado, hundreds of solar connections are being deliberately delayed by Xcel Energy, one of the largest utility companies in the state, according to customers and installers. This delay is causing frustration and financial hardships for both residential customers and small contractors, and is raising concerns about the accountability of large corporations.
Customers like Paul and June Webster, who recently retired to Colorado and had a rooftop solar system installed, are frustrated by the long wait time of up to six months for their systems to be connected to the grid. Despite having installed solar panels on their roof, they are still paying for electricity from traditional sources, unable to utilize the energy from their solar system. This wait time is a major financial burden for homeowners who have already invested in the installation of solar panels and are eager to start reaping the benefits of their investment.
How Xcel Energy is Affecting Contractors
Solar contractors, who rely on payment from the energy flowing through their installations, are also struggling as a result of these delays. Doug Southard, owner of Southard’s Solar Energy and Construction, has 29 customers waiting on Xcel and some of them have been waiting since May 2022. The delays are impacting the livelihood of small contractors and putting a strain on their businesses, with some struggling to keep their doors open.
The root cause of these delays has been the subject of much debate. Xcel Energy blames the high demand for solar installations, while Mike Kruger, with the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, which represents 275 companies, attributes the delays to a new portal launched by Xcel last summer. According to Kruger, the portal has been a “disaster from start to finish,” with projects lost, delayed, and plagued by error messages. The impact of these delays has been felt by hundreds of customers and businesses, who are struggling to make ends meet.
Due to these delays, even solar contractors who depend on payment from the energy generated by their installations are facing difficulties. For instance, Doug Southard, the proprietor of Southard’s Solar Energy and Construction, has 29 customers waiting for Xcel, with some waiting since May 2022. Small contractors are bearing the brunt of the delays, which are affecting their income and putting a strain on their businesses, and some are finding it challenging to remain open.
Kruger is calling on the Public Utilities Commission and the legislature to step in and address the situation. He believes that with no end in sight to the frustration and financial hardships faced by customers and businesses, it is time for those with regulatory and legislative power to take action.
While Xcel Energy has claimed to be in the process of hiring more crews and processing more applications, the Public Utilities Commission is investigating the delays, but has not yet indicated when or if any action will be taken.
In conclusion, the delay in connecting solar systems to the grid is causing major frustrations and financial hardships for residential customers and small contractors in Colorado. The impact of these delays is widespread and is raising questions about the accountability of large corporations. As the popularity of solar energy continues to rise, it is important for regulators and lawmakers to take action to ensure that customers and businesses are able to enjoy the benefits of their investment in a timely and efficient manner. The solar industry has the potential to provide clean and renewable energy to communities and drive economic growth, but only if it is supported by responsible and accountable corporations.
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