Oops. If I were the folks at Xcel, that's what I'd be saying. For the last year they've been trying to get rid of net metering here in Colorado (just like other utilities – and the Koch brothers – have been trying to do nationally).
Well it turns out, according to this press release from the solar folks, that just a few years ago Xcel was happy to make the case for solar:
Last week in Denver, Coloradans packed into the Public Utilities Commission meeting rooms to support the cornerstone rooftop solar policy net metering. Meanwhile, a new finding shows that Xcel also knows the true benefits of net metering. A Denver Post article from 2007 says "Xcel officials maintain that all customers benefit because solar systems delay the need to build expensive power plants and reduce prospective future taxes on carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power." Xcel's current attacks on net metering are a flip-flop meant to protect the utility monopoly from competition.
Right there, Xcel is admitting that rooftop solar and net metering systems actually help the grid – exactly the opposite of what they're arguing now. And they're making the case using the kinds of points about expanding the cost analysis (i.e. including the cost of building huge new expensive power plants) that they're rejecting now.
I tracked down the original DP story. Here's a link to it for anyone interested. It's really worth a read, as it walks through Xcel execs making the case about everything that's great about rooftop solar. Quite a change of heart they've had. For instance, in a more recent piece in the post, they say:
"We believe that net metering is a hidden incentive that unfairly requires non-solar customers to pay the grid costs of solar customers," Alice Jackson, a vice president of Xcel's Colorado subsidiary, said in an e-mail.
What's with the change of heart? The solar folks in that article lay it on competition, and that's probably a bit part of it. But the old quote from Xcel is important not just as a gotcha moment: it should force the company to accept cost projections that take into account the other social costs of dirty coal and gas power they're using, compared to solar, and to account for the upfront costs of big infrastructure investments in power plants (which are also passed along to consumers). After all, they're the ones who made the case for it.