The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ta­mara Chuang

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.

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