Last month, the Minneapolis City Council approved two new community solar gardens.
The city council seemed to be enthusiastic about the proposals. It’s played off to be a big money saver.
But solar energy will actually costs ratepayers tens of millions of dollars more than conventional electricity, according to an Xcel Energy executive.
The Journal reports:
Community solar gardens appear to be a significant portion of that capacity. As of Sept. 31, Xcel Energy had 42 community solar gardens that were interconnected to its grid, with those gardens having a capacity of 140 MW, according to Lee Gabler, senior director of customer solutions for Xcel Energy. He said another 475 MW worth of projects are in the design or construction phase.
Xcel is hoping to have a capacity of 250 MW through community solar gardens by the end of the year, Gabler said.
Minnesota had a capacity of 143.4 MW of community at 69 sites available from 30 utilities as of the end of the third quarter, Corson said.
Community solar gardens aren’t cheap for Xcel, Gabler said. Solar energy from the gardens costs the company 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, almost twice as expensive as utility-scale electricity.
Despite the city’s best efforts to portray solar energy as a money saver for rate payers, Xcel Energy admits that it’s anything but. Xcel Energy senior director Lee Gabler says energy from solar gardens have astronomically high price.
The truth is that solar energy is unbelievably expensive. 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Gabler. The Journal says that’s twice as expensive as “utility-scale electricity.”
Solar Energy is anything but affordable.
At face value, the new community solar deal “saves” Minneapolis $28,000 a year on electric bills, while helping Xcel Energy meet the state mandate to produce 1.5 percent of Minnesota’s electricity through solar.
Meantime, up to 800 low-income households will also be eligible to cash in on solar savings of $300 to $400 annually.
Up to this point, it looks like a win-win for the city and the small percentage of low-income households involved. But then Xcel Energy senior director of customer solutions Lee Gabler opens up, acknowledging that solar power is anything but a winner for the vast majority of ratepayers at all income levels.
Give Xcel Energy credit. Utilities often avoid discussing the true costs of green energy. But Xcel provides long overdue transparency in revealing that solar power costs the utility virtually twice as much to provide as conventional power. And Gabler acknowledges the higher costs are borne by the vast majority of Minnesotans who’ve never heard of a community solar garden, much less signed up for one.
So who pays for this?
After taking the plunge into the most cripplingly expensive energy source possible, how can energy company even survive?
They survive by having hapless consumers pay for it.
This kind of information tends to be surprisingly hard to discern from public utility company filings. So, who subsidizes solar energy that costs twice as much as traditional energy sources? You do:
Xcel passes those additional costs onto all of its consumers by charging them more for fuel. For every 100 MW of community solar that comes online, it costs customers an additional $17 million, Gabler said.
“Green” energy is, in my opinion, a scandal. Steve Hayward authored a great report on the subject for Center of the American Experiment (“Energy Policy in Minnesota: the High Cost of Failure”), which you can read here.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an investor in Xcel Energy and at one time did considerable legal work for the company.
Has this Xcel Energy executive come clean in admitting the true price of “green” energy?
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