Coloradans don’t need to add solar panels to their homes

Colorado’s attempts to go greener have meant legislation aimed primarily at businesses and not forcing environmental changes on you.

DENVER — With 300 days, selling sunshine in Colorado shouldn’t be difficult.

OK, that sun detail is a myth, but that doesn’t stop solar companies from marketing their product.

A couple from Lakewood received many requests for the installation of solar panels.

“My husband and I, in general, don’t shop door-to-door. If we need it, we’ll pick it up,” said Gail Cartwright, a Lakewood resident.

Over the past two years, she and her husband have been visited several times by vendors soliciting solar panel installations.

“I didn’t feel like it was a ‘have to’, it was just ‘it’s going to happen’ and you can choose now or later,” Cartwright said.

The two most recent solicitations are accompanied by documents.

One, was a door hanger, which misspelled Xcel Energy’s name as “Excel”.

“Like Excel [sic] is working towards 100% carbon-free electricity, some rate increases will now be applied to those who have not yet switched to renewables,” the door hanger said.

Cartwright said that felt like a requirement.

“I’m going to have to pay if I don’t go solar now,” she said.

“That seems to suggest that a customer who has decided not to install solar on their roof will somehow be penalized with higher rates, and that’s just not true,” said Gene Camp, director. Deputy of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The PUC regulates utilities in Colorado, and commissioners must approve or deny any rate increases equally.

“Clients [must] be treated equally, so basically no preferential or discriminatory tariff treatment is allowed,” Camp said.

A second document on Cartwright’s doorstep referenced a 2019 Senate bill.

“Colorado’s bill (19-236) requires electric utilities to help homeowners convert to renewable energy to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).”

This 2019 bill, which became law, continued the work of the PUC through 2026, along with several changes to state energy policy. There is a paragraph in the 64-page bill that gives customers the right to use renewable energy. They are not asked to use.

The RPS that is referenced on the document is actually a 2004 ballot initiative that voters approved, requiring utility companies to generate more electricity from renewable energy sources. This does not require residents to install solar panels.

“These people all made it seem very urgent,” Cartwright said.

Installing solar panels may be beneficial depending on the circumstances, but no state law requires it. And if there was a rate increase, like the first knocker described, it would apply to all customers equally, with or without solar panels. Customer bills would be different depending on how much energy was used and when it was used.

The PUC regulates utility companies, not door-to-door salespeople making sales pitches on utility products. Door-to-door complaints would go to your local district attorney’s office or the attorney general’s office.

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