Ritter says Xcel exceeded solar expectations with new renewable plan

Xcel Energy Tuesday released an ambitious plan to achieve the state-mandated Colorado Renewable Energy Standard (RES) of 20 percent of the utility’s energy base load from renewable sources by 2020.

The 10-year plan, according to a release from Xcel, will add more than 257 megawatts of solar with on-site installations for residential and commercial customers. The compliance plan, filed late Tuesday with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, also calls for 700 megawatts of new wind power and 350 megawatts of utility scale solar power plants.

Gov. Bill Ritter’s office was quick to praise the plan for going above and beyond what was required by Colorado voters with the passage of Amendment 37 in 2004 and subsequent modification by the state legislature in 2007.

“We applaud the company for adding more than three times the solar photovoltaic resources than the law requires,” Ritter said in a statement Tuesday, adding Xcel could have complied with just 85 megawatts.

Xcel will boost its Solar*Rewards program, which involves purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from customers, by buying more credits as part of an agreement with the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association (CoSEIA) and the Governor’s Energy Office that’s designed to bolster the state’s burgeoning solar industry.

The Xcel filing comes on the heels of an announcement Monday that the German company SMA Solar Technology AG, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar inverters, will locate a plant in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood.

The plant will employ 300 full-time workers once it ramps up by the middle of 2010, and could add another 400 temporary workers if demands warrants. Solar inverters, according to the Denver Post, convert direct current produced by solar arrays to alternating current for the power grid. The state provided the company $3 million in incentives, and Denver chipped in another $600,000.

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