Pueblo’s Black Hills utility company suspends solar rebates

After fulfilling the state requirement for solar energy as a percentage of electricity generation, Black Hills Energy has announced the suspension of the $2 per watt rebate program. Local solar companies fear the move will significantly dampen now burgeoning solar growth in the Black Hills service territory.

“It’s discouraging that Black Hills is doing this [suspending the solar rebate] just as the solar-power industry is taking off in the Pueblo area,” Scott Estep, owner of Casa Verde Energy, told the Pueblo Chieftain.

Tom Kilpatrick, spokesman for Black Hills told the Chieftain that the utility had met the percentage of solar required by the state for the year and that the program will be suspended until the end of this year to lower costs.

Although the utility will complete obligations to customers previously accepted at prices previously set with the rebate, no new applications will be considered until further notice.

The Colorado Public Utility Commission has not yet reviewed the decision.

Residents of Pueblo for the time being can still access solar energy rebates through Recharge Colorado, although concerns are mounting for the future of the state program as the federal stimulus money runs out – an instrumental source of funding for the Governor’s Energy Office programs.

Xcel Energy, the other major private utility in Colorado, is still offering Solar Rewards rebates.

Taran Volckhausen is a freelance journalist who primarily writes about the environment, politics, and drug policy. His work has appeared on National Geographic, Christian Science Monitor, The Intercept, Mongabay, among others. He is also a former editor at Colombia Reports. Twitter: @tvolckhausen

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