Xcel pays Colorado solar homeowners 8 cents for their extra electricity. Then charges neighbors 17 cents to use it.

Home solar producers won’t benefit from the utility’s new time-of-use rates until late next year at the earliest, missing two summers of generation.

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
Solar panels are seen on the house of Sloan Lake resident Paul Aldretti on July 14, 2022.
Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun

DENVER — As the clock nears 3 p.m. and the July sun bakes at a maximum, Paul Aldretti’s mind wanders to his second-story roof, where his grid-connected solar panels are pushing more electricity out to Xcel Energy than his home appliances are sucking down. He heads inside to check his spreadsheets on a computer screen. 

Yes, indeed. Peak time rates for Xcel have kicked in, and the big utility is charging regular homeowners a few blocks away 17 cents a kilowatt hour in base rates to power their air conditioning and fans. 

But they’re only paying Aldretti 8 cents a kilowatt hour to buy his extra solar power. 

“I have these kind of ‘what-the-heck’ moments,” said Aldretti, replacing some words with off-peak profanities. “I’m doing all of the right things, but I’m not getting any of the benefits.”

Aldretti and more than 60,000 Colorado homeowners with solar panels on their roofs don’t yet have access to the smart meters that allow Xcel to charge — or give credits — at different peak or off-peak rates during the day under a system called “time of use,” a solar trade group says.


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