XCEL TO STUDY WHEN PEOPLE USE ELECTRICITY
In a plan that could mean lower bills for some customers, Xcel Energy on Monday said it would study what time of day people use electricity at home.
The plan, part of a number of filings being made with the state Public Utilities Commission, wants to better align Xcel’s pricing for eco- conscious customers who put off drying clothes or vacuuming until off- peak hours.
Presently, Xcel checks residential power usage once a month. Go over a set amount in the summer, when tiered rates kick in, and the user pays a higher rate for the same amount of electricity. The company can’t tell if the customer is using most of the energy during the busy 2 to 6 p. m. peak, or later, when electricity is more plentiful.
“EV ( electric vehicle) customers use a lot of energy, but if they’re plugging in at night, they’re having to pay a higher rate,” said Alice Jackson, vice president of rates and regulatory affairs. “Getting that time of use metering sends a better price signal to customers.”
A number of other projects to study energy use by new technologies is also part of Xcel’s “Our Energy Future” plan.
Two pilot programs will help Xcel learn how to handle the budding use of batteries to store excess solar power and how residential users and companies can connect batteries to Xcel’s grid. Xcel is working with Panasonic at its new headquarters, and in Stapleton, a Denver neighborhood full of solar users.
Other proposals include SolarConnect, to give customers a choice in solar options; expansion of its solar- rewards program; and intelligent meters for all customers to better control energy consumption.
The cost to customers is not expected to exceed Xcel’s 10- year average increase of 1.9 percent for a customer’s monthly bill, according to Xcel, which is seeking PUC approval for the filings by Jan. 1, 2017.