From the WTF File: Xcel Energy Drops Out of Colorado’s Solar Market

In a move that is less than popular, energy company Xcel Energy has pulled its support out of the Colorado solar energy market.  You might remember Xcel Energy from a story I wrote back in 2009 about how Xcel Energy was charging solar customers who were using their solar panels to make electricity but not drawing power from the power grid.  I thought that was kind of a pretty rude move.

This one is yet another unpopular decision by Xcel Energy.  I find it kind of hilarious that their catch phrase is “Responsible by Nature.”

So back in 2004, Colorado voters passed Amendment 37 – the amendment says that by 2015, Colorado’s energy market will have 10% of the total contribution be from renewable energy sources.  At the time in 2004, 95% of the energy coming to the grid was from fossil fuels (coal and gas), and only 2% was from renewable energy sources.  From an article at Inhabitat:

Ammendment 37 was passed by Colorado voters in 2004 and required that public utility companies set aside money for a renewable energy portfolio. A small percentage of that power needed to be installed on consumer roofs where demand was great. Many companies opened shop or grew as the price of solar was cut nearly in half. As prices for solar equipment fell, and Xcel Energy met Ammedments 37′s requirements, they have gradually been able to lower the rebate amount to balance the total cost, while still maintaining a predictable pricing scheme for customers. The rebate money comes from a 2% charge on rate payer bills.

Hmm.  So what exactly does the pulling out of Xcel Energy have to do with Colorado and its future?  Well, tons, actually.  Job losses are expected to be about half of the total renewable energy jobs in Colorado, which is about on par with the entire number of fossil fuel gigs in the state.  Again, from Inhabitat:

While the solar industry was relying on a stepped approach for reducing the rebates, their sudden elimination has put nearly every planned residential and commercial project on hold. Being a capital heavy industry many solar company’s cash flow will be severely restricted, limiting opportunities for distributed generation.

One such project that was finalized the day of the announcement puts solar panels on the Denver Rescue Mission by the nonprofit Atmosphere Conservancy in order to help them reduce energy costs. Executive Director Alex Blackmer said that three solar projects the Atmosphere Conservancy finalized would have to be renegotiated and may not go forward after the announcement. Hundreds of  halted projects  will result in real job losses for a workforce that today totals more than 5,300 people and growing. Early estimates reveal that half of these jobs will be gone — more than the total number of jobs in the coal industry in the state.

Energy companies across the world: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  One of these days soon, the population of the world is going to get its collective head together and bring you to task for this kind of bullsh*t.  It’s time for one of these corporations to stand up and man up in order to change our future.  Profits are just profits – you all already have more money than you can possibly spend in your lifetimes – how about helping the rest of us by changing the future of the planet Earth?

Where exactly is the disconnect here, Big Oil and Coal companies?  Don’t you realize that if you switched to renewable energy sources to push on the market that you would make unbelievable amounts of money that won’t run out?  Even my neighbor’s five year old daughter realizes this fact.

Perhaps we need to let companies like Xcel Energy know how displeased we are with their decisions.  After all, a corporation by definition has rights and privvies like US citizens do.  If we made poor decisions publicly, people would call us on them, or we go to jail.  If you are affected by this decision or if you want to let Xcel Energy know how it’s doing, you should send the company an email at

How It’s Made – Photovoltaic Panels (That’s Solar, Holmes)

Another awesome How It’s Made video – making SOLAR PANELS!  This is such a technical process, and I think they did a great job of capturing the gist of it.  Check out the video!

Jax’s Link-O-Rama: Solar Edition

It’s a cold, foggy day in San Francisco, so I’m going to throw a bunch of sunshine on the grill (and by grill, I mean internet, naturally).

Photo from Amanda Lynne Ballard: sunset

Photo is from JimOnLight fab photog Amanda Lynne Ballard.

  • New favorite holiday: Solar Day! (CleanTechnica)
  • The US Air Force is one of the biggest purchasers of wind power in the country, and now the military is digging into solar power, too.  Cool. (CleanTechnica)
  • New import product from the Sahara! (Inhabitat)
  • Transmission-connected solar farm, finally! (CleanTechnica)
  • Not solar powered, but sunburnt: did you go to Coachella?  Did you wonder how they pulled off powering that whole thing?  Here’s how. (TPI Magazine)
  • Not quite there yet: solar-powered air conditioning. (EcoGeek)
  • Upping the competition in the solar market: super-skinny solar film. (Earth2Tech)
  • How to decide whether you should go solar. (CleanTechnica)
  • Want a solar power, but it’s too pricey?  PG&E has an idea. (Earth2Tech)
  • Google’s handing out solar-powered gizmos to doctors with IMC. (CleanTechnica)

Fry’s Sells Solar Panels? Sweet!

I was in Fry’s today (ah, to be back in Dallas…) buying a graphics card for my wife’s computer, and all of the sudden I pass by these large boxes of solar panels.  Solar panels!  At Fry’s?  That is absolutely fantastic.  If there is anyone around the DFW Metroplex who would carry them, I would figure it would be Fry’s.

They had some 40w, 60, 70, and 80w models – between around 2X4 and a larger one (the 80w model) that looked to be around 2X6.  Also, a 400w wind power generator!

I snapped a few iPhone pics.  This might not be terribly exciting to you, but if you’re in reach of a Fry’s, you could have a solar panel (or five!) for home use.

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What? Crackhead Steals A School’s Solar Panels For Crack



I just read a story about some 32 year old ass-hat who stole about $50,000 in solar panels from a school’s rooftop to buy some kind of drugs – this guy stole the panels and hid them in a storage unit, along with a bunch of cold weather gear stolen from a non-profit organization that helps military veterans.  Oh yeah, he had some stolen lawn care equipment and bicycles, too.  What a winner.

This story is actually pretty ridiculous – and just goes to show that people who are not smart enough to avoid being caught for stuff this stupid should not do things for which they will get caught.  This moron, from jail while awaiting a felony drug charge, called his friend and asked him to get rid of the solar panels from the storage unit.  Police were monitoring the call, and sent some officers to the unit where they discovered 17 of the stolen panels and other stolen merchandise.

This guy’s lawyer said “What was found in the storage shed, his behavior, is indicative of a drug addict going on a run.”  Yeah?  Well, tough crap, d-bag.  That’s what you get for stealing a school’s solar panels.

Thanks, Consumer Energy Report!