Colorado Environmental Justice Coalition Submits Equity Recommendations

The Environmental Justice Coalition (The Coalition) filed recommendations in response to Public Service Company of Colorado’s (Xcel Colorado) proposed Renewable Energy Plan on July 11, 2020 at the Public Utilities Commission Colorado (PUC). The Renewable Energy Plan is a four-year roadmap for how the utility company will expand renewable energy in Colorado. The Coalition is composed of Colorado Latino Forum, Cultivando, GreenLatinos, GRID Alternatives, Mothers Out Front, NAACP Denver, Vote Solar, and Womxn from the Mountain. The recommendations focus on expanding programs and increasing funding for low-income/income qualified (IQ) and disproportionately impacted communities (DIC) within Xcel Energy’s service territory. 

The EJ Coalition has been coordinating with the public since May 2022 with online webinars to educate and solicit feedback for The Coalition’s proposed recommendations. The Colorado PUC scheduled public comment hearings on June 26 and September 5th, 2022. These hearings will allow electric customers to speak on Xcel’s Energy plan and how it will affect them.

Based on the community’s input and The Coalition’s own research, The Coalition proposes the the Renewable Energy Plan should require Xcel Colorado to:

Community Outreach

  • Utilize a portion of their budget to partner with community-based organizations and conduct more meaningful and effective outreach to IQ and DIC customers.

Identifying Disproportionately Impacted Communities (DICs)

  • Use Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s EnviroScreen mapping tool to identify IQ and DIC customers.

IQ and DIC Funding 

  • Implement a minimum annual IQ customers and DIC expenditure budget of $23.3 million.
  • Plan for the IQ and DIC minimum funding for future years to ensure consistent funding.

 Programmatic Equity Improvements 

  • Approve the continuation of the income-qualified Onsite Colorado Energy Office Program and a new income-qualified Onsite Open Program.
  • Approve incremental increases for the IQ and DIC commercial and industrial energy incentives.
  • Require Xcel to support multifamily/affordable housing projects.
  • Approve incremental increases for the IQ and DIC community solar garden incentives.
  • Approve additional capacity for a new community-driven Community Solar Program.

Solar Rewards Battery Connect 

  • Order Xcel to create an IQ and DIC provision in the Solar Rewards Battery Connect Program that is funded at $2 million per plan year.

Workforce Development and Administration 

  • Approve a Workforce Development Rebate funded at $500,000 per plan year.
  • Approve a program administrator for IQ and DIC programs and incentives.

Net Metering and Revenue Reductions  

  • Acknowledge the rights of customers to access and utilize rooftop solar energy.

“Xcel Energy does the bare minimum in terms of stakeholder outreach and meeting statutory requirements. This plan could be much better if only they treated equity as more than a checkbox on a long list of criteria,” said Claudine Custodio, Senior Regulatory Manager for the Interior West at Vote Solar. 

The Coalition is preparing for the next public comment hearing on September 5th. The Coalition will send invitations electronically through email lists, over social media, and on other public channels. 

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