Written By Yann Brandt, host of SolarWakeup
Governor Hickenlooper (D-CO) nominated former Colorado State Representative Glenn Vaad to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Mr. Vaad began his 4 year term on January 7th while waiting for his confirmation by the Colorado State Senate. The interesting point about Mr. Vaad’s nomination is that the former Representative was quite active in supporting and being involved in ALEC, the corporate anti-solar lobbying group. Mr. Vaad is a past winner of the “Legislator of the Year” award from ALEC and an attendee on some ALEC sponsored trips. Additionally, Mr. Vaad chaired an ALEC committee which included topics covering commerce and infrastructure.
The former State Representative and current Colorado PUC Commissioner will have the opportunity to shape future solar policies which include the pending docket involving net metering. In his 6 years as a State Representative, Mr. Vaad voted ‘No’ on several solar related bills including: HB 1169 (2007) “Net Metering for Customer Generators of Coops”, SB 51 (2009) Net Metering Rules and voted ‘excused’ on a solar gardens bill that passed 56-7 HB 1342 (2010).
The market effect is that Mr. Vaad will provide ALEC an inside course to rulemaking for its fight on solar. Similar to the attempt to dismantle the solar market and net metering in Arizona, ALEC is pushing a fee for net metering in Colorado. The three member PUC in Colorado should begin hearing this XCEL Energy docket in February. For solar advocates, this means that Commissioner Vaad’s staff may have the opportunity to push for the data during research and perhaps bring this information to ALEC’s attention.
The solar policies that have brought our industry to the scale it is today, such as strong net metering and interconnection rules, were pushed through State legislatures and Governor’s offices across the Country. The details and rulemaking actually happens in smaller and less public setting within Utilities Commissions and the staff. With Arizona behind us and Colorado ahead, ALEC is stepping up their fight on solar by pushing for their legislators in the PUC nominations. These Public Utilities Commissions are the newest battleground in ALEC’s war on solar. It is the solar industry’s responsibility to support our advocates like SEIA, TASC and Vote Solar and help them get solar advocates nominated as Utility Commissioners as well.