The Governor recently signed Senate Bill 009, which limits the ability of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to put up barriers to customer-sited battery storage systems. With the cost of battery backup coming down significantly in recent years, this bill could facilitate a broader movement to pair on-site renewables with batteries. The bill directs Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission to establish rules around customer-sited battery storage systems that would uphold the following principles:
- IOU barriers to the installation and use of batteries should be limited
- Unnecessary restrictions, rates, and fees/rates shouldn’t be permitted
- Utility approval of batteries should be simple and streamlined
So basically, if you live in or own a business in Xcel or Black Hills electric service territory, it should be easy for you to install a battery storage system. Which begs the question, why would you want to install battery backup? The answer is that you wouldn’t – unless service to your home or business is so poor as to make battery backup needed to ensure reasonable electric service. Of course, as utilities continue to move toward time-of-use rates for more of their customers, batteries will become more financially relevant. That is, the cost of a battery system can be paid back if it is charged by say rooftop solar in off-peak periods when electricity prices are low and discharged during peak periods when electricity prices are high. So although we’re not there yet, SB-009 provides protection for consumers interested in pairing renewables and storage regardless of the fact that utilities may lose some business in the process.