Dear Editor:

Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) in a surprise move has reverted to a “Dark Ages” mentality to not only reject but penalize “members” who are home solar and wind electric producers.

Members were kept in the dark about pending changes affecting usage and access charges. Way to treat your “members” with transparency and an opportunity to participate. I first learned from a local Facebook group last week that SDCEA will stick it to home solar producers in a double whammy beginning Feb. 1.

First, home solar producers not only bear the brunt of the cost of installing solar equipment, but secondly, SDCEA will now charge for energy used, regardless if we produce more than used. We now will be charged a new and additional “distribution services rate” for energy used when not producing it (night or cloudy days). We can no longer offset energy we use with what we produce regardless of time of day we produce or use electricity. This goes against common sense and net metering mandates.

In addition, rates (costs per kWh) for lower energy users (solar and others that conserve electricity) are going up, while the costs for higher users is going down. This disincentivizes energy conservation and green energy production. They are rewarding consumers who use more energy. Wrong direction!

There are also increases in “service availability charges” (hookup). I fully appreciate that there are increasing maintenance and infrastructure costs. While not happy with increases, at least I understand those.

We were kept in the dark and only given one month notice of these changes. I recently spent $20K out of pocket and installed a home solar system to cover all of my electric needs, only to learn I will soon pay for energy used when I’m not producing it. This means the solar system we just installed is worthless and a complete waste of money.

These changes will virtually stop all future home solar or renewable energy development. Our counties will lose out on good, high-paying jobs that a growing solar energy industry would have produced.

Other energy providers such as Excel, Black Hills Energy, etc., as well as a growing legion of citizens, have committed to doing their part in producing clean energy. Home solar is part of the solution that must be encouraged, not discouraged. Clearly SDCEA is not among these innovative companies that are looking to the future.

At a time when our local, regional, state, national and world leaders and scientists have unilaterally agreed that we must encourage production and use renewable energy now, SDCEA is moving to penalize it. Shame on SDCEA and its Neanderthal stance of electric energy production by discouraging home solar and other renewable energy production.

Time for a change in “our” SDCEA board members to those who recognize and appreciate the role conservation and home solar (renewables) play in addressing energy demands and our ever-increasing climate challenges. Change must come if we are to keep the lights on.

 

Mike Wrigley,

Howard