In California, people who get their electricity from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) can receive all their power from solar by paying a small premium.
Starting later this year, people will be able to pay for a "green option," choosing between 50% or 100% solar that comes from small and mid-sized solar projects in PG&E’s service area. Customers will pay a premium of two-to-three cents per kilowatt-hour to start, and will decline as solar costs come down.
Community Solar will also be an option soon, where people can directly buy into solar projects and get credit on their utility bills.
The idea is to give people options for running on solar that go beyond homeowners putting it on their roof. Just 25% of homes have rooftops suitable for solar, according to National Renewable Energy Lab, because of shade and other factors, and they want to reach out to renters too.
In Colorado Springs, customers can sign up for a plan that brings them wind energy from Xcel Energy. Already 65% sold out, it costs $2.14 per 100 kilowatt-hours to participate in the 20,000 megawatt-hours the local utility is buying from wind farms in the northern part of the state.
Meanwhile, Republicans are already working to roll back Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The Republican-controlled state Senate voted to cut RPS requirements in half for investor-owned utilities – 15% renewables by 2020 instead of 30%. For rural electric coops, it would be cut from 20% to 15%. The House has a Democratic majority, which won’t pass the bill.
22,000 Coloradans have clean energy jobs thanks to the RPS, an obvious boost for the middle class. Colorado was the first state to pass an RPS, so successful it’s been raised three times and extended to rural electric coops in 2013.
It’s been raised as utilities came close to meeting it and Xcel -Colorado’s biggest utility – is close to achieving 30%, way before the 2020 deadline. The target should be raised again, not cut in half.
In late January, West Virginia became the first state to repeal its RPS, and you can be sure ALEC’s fingerprints are all over Colorado’s bill to dilute the RPS.