Saturday, February 19, 2011

Post # 58 - Xcel's SmartGridCity: Boulder, We Have a [Written] Decision

Following up on my prior posts (see here and here), the Colorado Public Utilities Commission finally released its written decision reducing $14.8 million in cost recovery from Xcel Energy SmartGridCity project in Boulder. The CPUC took this action despite a prior settlement, approved by a CPUC administrative law judge, that would have provide for cost recovery of $44.5 million.

Early last month, at its regularly monthly meeting, the CPUC voted to drastically reduce the cost recovery approved by its judge -- but t has taken a while for the agency to issue a written decision.

The written decision finally appeared about one month later. The CPUC criticized Xcel for failing to "articulate and defend a strategic plan for the use of SmartGridCity investment." The CPUC also expressed concern of whether the projected benefits would be actualized.

However, the CPUC will allow Xcel to recover $14.8 million upon demonstrating “the credible promise of consumer and utility benefits” and “the ability of customers to make practical use of [SmartGridCity] on their side of the meter through in-home devices.” But the CPUC wants to see a "robust" plan created with input from "academics, researchers, and customers."

Once again, a utility learns that customer buy-in for smart grid project -- especially smart meter projects -- is esential.

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