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Xcel Energy customers frustrated with how long it's taking to activate solar panels

Local solar business says Xcel is taking months to get solar panels up and running
Xcel Energy customers frustrated by how long it's taking to activate solar panels
Posted at 10:35 PM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 13:01:05-05

LITTLETON, Colo. — Many Colorado consumers are hoping to reduce their monthly energy bills by switching to solar energy, but some customers have solar panels just sitting on top of their home not being used.

Devin Dickinson, owner of Altitude Solar Power, says solar panels are immune to inflation and the rising price of natural gas. Many of his clients are not getting to capitalize on that though, since the solar panels require Xcel Energy to install a meter that connects them to the grid.

“When I started this almost four years ago, they [Xcel Energy] were pretty quick on everything. And they'd come out within a week and get everything inspected and turned on," Dickinson said. “Lately, I don't know what is going on with them it. I mean, it takes on average, they're telling us to wait six to eight weeks before they even come out after the panels are installed.”

Dickinson says even before the installation process, Xcel is requiring eight to 12 weeks to approve the designs from the company.

“My customers scream at me all the time, 'What is going on with my panels? They're sitting on my roof. I want to turn them on, I want to start saving money.' The only thing I can really ever tell them is I have no answers. It's just waiting on Xcel for you," said Dickinson.

Dennis Williams is one of Dickinson's clients and had solar panels installed onto his home in October 2022. However, the panels are still not connected to the grid.

"I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn't think it was going to be this difficult," Williams said. “The right arm of Xcel Energy doesn't know what the left arm is doing.”

Williams says early last year, their monthly bills were around $400. The family's bill from December was more than $800. Williams wants the solar panels to start offsetting that cost.

Denver7 reached out to Xcel Energy to learn how long it normally takes from when solar panels are installed to when they're turned on and working. Here's a statement Denver7 received Wednesday morning:

'Rooftop solar is one of the tools we can use to reduce carbon emissions in Colorado.

We’ve safely connected more than 70,000 customer solar systems to our grid in Colorado. Recently, we’re seeing a significant increase in application volume given a combination of federal and state incentives. Specifically, the Xcel Energy solar program team completed over 18,000 applications to connect solar to our grid in 2022 - a 34% increase compared to the previous year.

As a result of this increased volume, we have experienced increased processing times mainly due to the time it takes engineers to complete reviews of each individual installation. This is extending review timeframes by approximately 2 months. We are hiring and contracting for additional resources to help.

Other factors can delay steps in the interconnection process. It requires a coordinated effort between solar installers and the company to share detailed, accurate information to ensure the solar systems can be connected to the grid in a safe matter. We rely upon installers to understand their steps in the process and to provide accurate and timely information to coordinate these efforts. The pricing agreements are between installers and the customers.

You can learn more about the residential solar installation process on our website, linked here [], detailing information on renewable energy credits, applications, metering, billing, estimators and more.

Again, we appreciate our customers’ participating in our rooftop solar program and the benefits it brings to all our Colorado Customers and we want our new solar customers to know we are working to address their concerns with the time it takes to connect to the grid.'

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