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Dear Editor,

Sangre de Cristo Electric Association’s (SDCEA) proposed rate changes, effective February 1, lack forward-thinking and are discriminatory against certain customers.  They are a financial disincentive for customers who now have or plan to install renewable energy systems, while also being a disincentive to retrofit homes to conserve energy.  They will adversely impact lower-income customers and others who strive to use less energy to save money.  The rate changes are discriminatory towards net metering customers in that they will be charged a separate “distribution services rate” whenever they are not generating, even though they may have excess banked energy.  This does not meet the intent of Colorado’s net metering statutes.

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Having recently invested in rooftop home solar, I estimated the cost payback to be about 10 years, depending on assumptions for energy usage, solar generation, and energy rate inflation.  The proposed doubling (or more in winter) of my monthly electric bill with the rate changes will increase the payback period of my solar energy system to at least 20 years.

This discriminatory rate change is not what I agreed to when I signed the contract with SDCEA, and an average net metering rate increase of 44.13 percent, as stated in the Public Notice, was certainly not a reasonable assumption to make in early 2021 when I was considering solar energy.  SDCEA’s rates changes will effectively put the cost of installing clean renewable solar energy out of reach for many people.

These rate changes are like looking back 20 years and do not move SDCEA in the direction society is moving with regards to clean renewable energy, climate change initiatives, reducing carbon footprints, and energy conservation.  SDCEA is encouraging the use of more energy, but not clean renewable energy that is, and could be generated by its own customers.  They risk alienating the customer-generators who they may need to rely on in the future.

I find it ironic that in the January Colorado Country Life magazine, where SDCEA discusses and gives examples of the rate changes, there is also an article about innovative energy micro-grids in other parts of the state using solar and battery technologies.  Projects like these are the kind of innovative and forward-thinking that is needed at SDCEA.

I urge you to take the time to study the proposed rate changes. Then please contact your SDCEA Board representatives and ask them to justify why they support rate changes that are unfair and clearly bad policy.

Rich Shoemaker

Rural Chaffee County