DENVER, CO—Xcel Energy has expanded its Solar Rewards program to include the charging of electric vehicles from photovoltaic solar panels, effective today.
An Xcel Energy customer who purchases an electric vehicle (EV) can now install a solar system large enough to cover the electricity demand for both home and vehicle use and receive incentives from the utility for doing so.
“The Solar Rewards program expansion opens up opportunities for homeowners to take advantage of clean solar power that enables nearly emissions-free driving,” said Will Toor, director of transportation programs for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “It also helps customers to get very close to net zero energy use at home and on the road.”
Xcel’s Solar Rewards program currently offers incentives to customers for up to 120% of a home’s average annual electricity consumption, based upon the prior 12 months’ bills, or—for new construction—a calculation linked to square footage. Until today, an electric vehicle owner would have to charge the car at home for a year in order to establish the extra demand for electricity. With vehicle registration as proof of electric vehicle ownership, customers who wish to fuel their car with solar power can now simply add an additional 250kWh/month to their calculation.
The company has said it supports the use and development of solar energy as well as the expansion of the electric vehicle market and plans to post information in the Solar Rewards FAQ section of its website.
“We are pleased that Xcel Energy has decided to expand the Solar Rewards program to include capacity for charging electric vehicles,’’ said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA). “It benefits both the utility’s customers and the solar industry.”
The program expansion was made possible through Colorado legislation passed in 2012 to deregulate the sale of electricity and open up the marketplace to expand the state’s network of EV fueling stations. HB 1258 was best known for allowing any entity to install and charge fees for use of electric vehicle charging stations without being regulated as a utility. But the bill’s language also specified that existing and planned electric vehicle charging stations would qualify for utility solar incentive programs.
Xcel Energy’s expanded Solar Rewards program boosts the affordability of electric vehicles and supports new business models that lower the cost of combined purchases of electric vehicles and solar panels, said Toor.
Namaste Solar in Boulder, Colo., announced last summer that it offers a discounted solar package for electric vehicle charging through its “Drive Green for Life” program. Ford Motor Company offers a similar discounted solar package to those purchasing its electric Ford Focus. Toor said auto dealers are considering financing options that package a new electric vehicle purchase with a charging station or solar panels.
“The big picture benefit is reduced vehicle and power plant emissions that contribute to air pollution in congested Front Range cities,” said Toor. “Plus, Xcel’s customers who take advantage of the Solar Rewards program and power their vehicles from the sun will minimize fuel costs and save an average $1,000 annually or more. Those savings are expected to boost discretionary spending in Colorado communities and benefit local economies.”
Already Colorado has acted to lower the cost of electric vehicle ownership. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law in May, 2013, that provides a state tax credit of up to $6,000 on new electric vehicle purchases, on top of a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
Will Toor, SWEEP director of transportation: firstname.lastname@example.org; (303) 447-00789 ext.6; (303) 591-6669 cell
Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director, COSEIA: email@example.com; 720-209-6000 cell
Mark Stutz, senior media representative, Xcel Energy: Mark.Stutz@xcelenergy.com; (303) 294-2300