Colorado among first states to give consumers the right to store energy from alternative sources
New law zaps discrimination against battery systems
Colorado has granted electricity users in the state a new right — the ability to store energy without discrimination in rates or excessive barriers in connecting to the grid.
“This is declared to be a right and that is an important statement,” said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of COSEIA, a trade group that represents the solar energy industry in the state.
Battery prices have dropped enough that more households and businesses can afford them to capture the surplus electricity they generate from renewable sources.
Utilities in some states have tried to block battery systems, which can present safety concerns but which also reduce their control over the grid. A few years back, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, proposed different rates for customers with battery systems, which the solar industry opposed, Cantwell said.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 9 into law, making Colorado one of the first states in the country in which utility customers have a right to store energy.
Xcel has just a dozen dozen or so customers with battery storage systems, although more requests are pending, said Mark Stutz, a spokesman for the company, which was neutral on the bill.
A goal in establishing storage as a right is that the principle will guide the Colorado Public Utilities Commission as it crafts rules on integrating battery systems, Cantwell said. Standardization should smooth adoption.