News

Battery storage bill aims at preventing price shock

Author: Mike McKibbin - January 19, 2017 - Updated: January 19, 2017

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Battery storage is becoming more common in Colorado, but state Sen. Stee Fenberg, D-Boulder, wants to protect consumers from excessive utility fees when they install such backup storage capacity. (Courtesy Creative Commons)
Battery storage is becoming more common in Colorado, but state Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, wants to protect consumers from excessive utility fees when they install such backup power capacity. (Courtesy Creative Commons)

As battery storage technology has progressed, more Coloradans are installing them as backup power sources, but finding electric utilities are charging burdensome fees, according to state Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.

Fenberg is the main sponsor of bipartisan legislation to protect Colorado consumers’ right to install electrical storage systems on their own property for later use or in case of outages.

The legislation declares that consumers “have a right to install and use electricity storage systems on their property,” and prohibits utilities from charging discriminatory and burdensome fees on those customers.

State Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder
State Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder

“Batteries have advanced a great deal in recent years,” said Fenberg in a news release, noting the increase in storage capacity and the drop in cost for batteries. “However, Colorado consumers aren’t able to take advantage of products like the Tesla Powerwall because utilities are intentionally making it difficult and cost-prohibitive by placing unnecessary fees and charges on these customers.”

“We have lots of storage projects in the pipeline that can’t move because of unreasonable requirements,” said Whitney Painter, owner of Buglet Solar Electric in Golden. “These requirements would make the equipment lose its UL certification and add thousands of dollars to the cost for a small system.”

“Colorado consumers should be able to install batteries that could not only lower their utility bill every month, but also serve as a backup if the power were to go out,” Fenberg added. “The use of electrical storage systems is not just cost-saving for the consumer, it helps reduce costs for all of Colorado’s ratepayers; with less demand on the grid during peak hours of the day, the grid will become more reliable and utilities won’t need to build more expensive power plants that are only used a few hours a year during the most energy-intensive days.”

Cosponsors of the bill are Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Assistant Minority Leader Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

Mike McKibbin

Mike McKibbin

Mike McKibbin is a Denver and Washington political reporter for The Colorado Statesman. A long-time Colorado-based journalist, he has worked as an editor and bureau reporter and won numerous Colorado Press Association and Associated Press awards. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcKibbin7 and email mike@coloradostatesman.com.