Colorado’s utilities administer rapidly growing energy efficiency programs under a regulated structure with oversight by the Public Utilities Commission. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency reports electric efficiency budgets of $64.7 million and natural gas budgets of $18.4 million for 2010. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado electric utilities saved 254,588 MWh in 2009. Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011 are in the State Spending and Savings Tables. Reported electricity savings for 2010 are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authorized Xcel Energy, operating as the Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo), to expand its demand-side management (DSM) programs. These programs are anticipated to reduce electricity use by 11.5% by 2020.
A House Bill required the PUC to establish energy savings goals for gas and electric utilities (thereby creating an EERS) and to give investor-owned utilities a financial incentive for implementing cost-effective efficiency programs. The utilities recover the program costs of the plans approved by the PUC by using tariff riders, which adjust customer bills.Colorado initiated natural gas decoupling in 2007 and implemented it in 2008. There are no decoupling options for electric utilities. The PUC has created incentives to reward utilities that create efficiency programs for electricity and/or natural gas.
Xcel Energy/PSCo is the major investor-owned utility in Colorado. Xcel Energy/PSCo administers its programs after they have been approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Colorado's electric utilities saved 255 GWh in 2009. Reported electricity savings for 2010 are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
In 2007, House Bill 07-1037 directed the PUC to set energy savings goals for electric utilities and to create financial incentives for cost-effective efficiency programs. In 2008, the PUC set goals for Xcel Energy/PSCo. These goals call for the utility to help its customers reduce their electricity use in 2020 to about 11.5% less than their energy use during 2009. The programs are expected to save 3,669 GWh.
Holy Cross Energy, a rural electric cooperative utility, recently approved a portfolio of energy efficiency programs for 2012-2016 that will achieve savings equal about 0.5% of retail sales per year.
House Bill 1164 now requires the PUC to include the possible impacts of future greenhouse gas regulation on electricity prices when evaluating utility resource plans.
Natural gas programs are also available in Colorado. Signed into law May 22,2007, House Bill 07-1037 required that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission set energy savings goals for natural gas.
Atmos Energy, a natural gas utility, estimated that there is an economic potential to reduce natural gas usage in Coloradoby 3 to 4 million dekatherms between 2009 and 2013. The utility reported a total natural gas consumption of 12 million dekatherms in 2008. The achievable potential is likely to be lower than the economic potential.
In Colorado, Xcel Energy offers self-direct programs to customers with average demand greater than 2 MW and annual consumption greater than 10 GWh. Companies can aggregate to meet the minimum thresholds. Self-direct customers continue to pay their assigned cost-recovery mechanism (CRM) fees and self-direct projects are reimbursed through a rebate of up to 50% of the incremental project costs. Self-direct customers provide their own engineering analysis and must meet the same total resource cost test as all the other industrial and commercial offerings. More information on large customer self-direct programs can be found in the ACEEE report, Follow the Leaders: Improving Large Customer Self-Direct Programs.
Funding for energy efficiency is increasing rapidly in Colorado. Xcel Energy/PSCo’s programs are funded by a demand-side management Cost Adjustment Mechanism rate rider. According to the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Xcel Energy/PSCo plans to ramp up its investment in DSM programs from $63 million in 2009 to $80 million in 2020. Xcel Energy/PSCo estimated that its customers will gain $450 million in net economic benefits from these programs. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency reports 2010 electric utility efficiency program budgets of $64.7 million.
Atmos Energy has budgeted $565,000 for natural gas programs in 2009 and $691,000 in 2010. The company reported that this total budget exceeds state requirements by 10%. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) reported that Colorado utilities budgeted $18.4 million for 2010 natural gas programs.
Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011 are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
Summary: Electric: PSCo and Black Hills Energy (BHE) both aim for 0.9% of sales in 2011 and increase to 1.35% (1.0% for BHE) of sales in 2015 and then 1.66% (1.2%) of sales in 2019. Natural Gas: Savings targets commensurate with spending targets (at least 0.5% of prior year’s revenue).
The Colorado legislature passed HB-07-1037 in April 2007, which amended Colorado statutes C.R.S. 40-1-102 and 40-3.2-101-105 by requiring the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (COPUC) to establish energy savings goals for investor-owned electric and gas utilities. The bill also requires the COPUC to provide utilities with financial incentives for implementing cost-effective energy-saving programs. The COPUC must report annually on the progress made by investor-owned natural gas and electric utilities in meeting their demand side management goals.
The EERS statute does not directly set a fixed schedule of statewide percentages of energy savings to be achieved by particular years, nor does it require the acquisition of all cost-effective energy efficiency resources. Instead it sets an overall multi-year statewide goal for investor-owned utilities of at least five percent of the utility's retail MWh energy sales in the base year (2006) to be met by the end of 2018, counting savings in 2018 and including savings from DSM measures installed starting in 2006. The law empowers COPUC to set interim goals for utilities and to modify goals.
In a May 2008 decision, the COPUC set energy savings goals for PSCo for the period 2009-2020. The goals set energy saving targets of 0.53% of retail sales in 2008, ramping up to 1% in 2015, and 1.2% in 2019. The savings would amount to 3,669 GWh over the 12-year period (Docket No. 07A-420E). The Commission accepted modified goals for PSCo for 2009 and 2010 in a Settlement Agreement in Decision R08-1243 in February 2009, which were designed to save approximately 0.6% (176 GWh) in 2009 and 0.8% (237 GWh) in 2010, exceeding the mandated savings in both years. PSCo plans to achieve 255 GWh in 2011 (PSCo 2011 DSM Plan).
In May 2011, COPUC approved new goals for PSCo for the 2012-2020 period. The goals are approximately 130 percent of the annual goals approved in May 2008, beginning at 1.14% of sales in 2012, ramping up to 1.35% in 2015, and reaching 1.68% in 2020. The goals set out to achieve 3,984 GWh in the nine-year period (Docket No. 10A-554EG).
Xcel Energy is planning to ramp up its energy efficiency programs in 2012 and 2013. After negotiations among interveners, Xcel agreed to a number of program improvements as detailed in a Settlement Agreement submitted to the Colorado PUC in November. If the Settlement Agreement is approved by the PUC, Xcel will increase energy savings by nearly 40% in 2012 and an additional 10% in 2013.
Black Hills Energy adopted an efficiency plan that aims to save 0.53% of projected sales in 2009 (10,287 MWh), 0.76% in 2010 (15,156 MWh), and 0.80% in 2011 (16,522 MWh) (COPUC Docket No. 0BA-51BE). The statutory minimum goal for Black Hills over the ten-year period is 93.9 GWh, based on 2006 sales (Public Utilities Commission Report, 2009).
For investor-owned natural gas utilities, the EERS legislation structured the requirement in two parts. First, the natural gas IOU’s must set DSM spending targets of more than 0.5% of revenues from customers in the prior year. Energy savings targets are then established by COPUC commensurate with spending and stated in terms of quantity of gas saved per dollar of efficiency program spending.
On June 18, 2007, the Public Utilities Commission approved a partial revenue decoupling adjustment for residential gas customers as part of a three-year pilot program. The proposed mechanism is implemented through a rider applied to the company’s base rate gas service revenues to compensate for the prior year’s changes in weather-normalized use per customer. This is a three-year pilot program, initially set to run from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2011. If revenue per residential customer declines more than 1.3% per year, the rate adjustment is updated to recover reduced weather-normalized revenues due to reduced usage per customer. This value (1.3%) was chosen because it equals 1/2 of the historic rate of decline referenced in PSCo’s testimony (Docket Nos: 06S-655G and 08L-413G).
The 2009/10 Demand Side Management (DSM) Plan was intended to remove disincentives to efficiency, offset revenue and earnings erosion and reward utility performance, among other things for the Public Service Company of Colorado. The PUC indicated that it is not appropriate and likely not feasible to define in a docket the lost margins resulting from DSM. Instead it addressed the financial disincentives of DSM with a fixed payment of $2 million after taxes (approximately 3.2. million gross) for each year that 80% of the annual energy savings goal for an approved DSM plan is achieved. This amount is recovered over the 12 month period following the year in which the DSM plan is implemented. The PUC specifically notes that this “disincentive offset” should not be considered lost margin recovery, but is an annual bonus for meeting approved DSM goals. The $2 million disincentive offset can be adjusted downward in future years if the 80% target is not met although it was reported that the 80% target is so easily achieved as to make the payment almost automatic upon DSM program implementation. Incentives are also included in the mechanism and utilities achieving efficiency targets can earn a percentage of the net economic benefits generated by those savings. Combined total incentive payments are capped at 20% of PSCo’s annual DSM expenditures.
Colorado Public Utilities Commission docket search.
The 2009/10 Demand Side Management (DSM) Plan, approved in 2008, includes a three-part incentive package that included a $2 million “disincentive offset” for each year that Public Service Colorado implement an approved DSM plan, a performance incentive and cost recovery via a rider on a prospective basis. A similar three-part package was approved for Black Hills. In each case the performance incentives are available for achieving efficiency targets. The incentive (including the disincentive offset) is capped at 20% of PSCo’s annual DSM expenditures.
For natural gas utilities, the incentive bonus is capped at 25% of the expenditures or 20% of the net economic benefits of the DSM programs, whichever amount is lower.
Energy efficiency is not included within the commission’s definition of a supply-side resource in the Rules Regulating Electric Utilities. However, in Public Service Company’s recent Electric Resource Plan filing, it appears that the commission required the company to modify its plan to include modeling for approved DSM programs (Docket No. 07A-447E, Decision No. C08-0929).
The evaluationof ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Colorado relies on regulatory orders. Evaluations are administered by the utilities. Colorado has established formal rules and procedures for evaluation. The utilities submit a set of technical assumptions as part of their respective plan filings, which are approved by the Commission; see Stipulation and Settlement Agreement in Public Service Company Docket No. 08A-366EG. Statewide evaluations are conducted. Colorado relies on the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test and considers it to be its primary cost-effectiveness test. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in PUC HB 07-1037. These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio and total program level screening.