North Coast Solar Stocks

July 27, 2009

Xcel wants to hike fees for solar customers

Filed under: XEL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:54 pm

7/27/2009 12:54:04 PM

DENVER: Xcel Energy (XEL) customers who power their homes with solar panels will have to pay a higher electricity bill — even if they generate more energy than they use — if the company’s proposed rate increase is approved by Colorado.

Local solar-panel owners are “net metered” by Xcel, meaning their meters move forward when electricity flows from the grid into their houses and backward when electricity flows from the photovoltaic systems to the grid.

Now, if the net meter on a solar home reads zero at the end of a month — meaning the home produced as much electricity as it used — the homeowner still has to pay a service fee, which averages between $7 and $8, to cover services such as billing and meter reading.

Xcel’s proposed increase would also charge future solar customers for expenses the company says it incurs by having additional electricity capacity ready for them to tap into — even if they don’t use it. Existing solar customers would be exempt from the rate hike.

“We have to build the system so the customer can use as much energy as they want,” Xcel spokesman Tom Henley said. “Right now, solar customers have this backup to the grid for free.”

The concept is similar to buying an emergency cell phone. Customers have to pay for the cell service — even if they never use the phone — to guarantee that they can make a call out if necessary.

Xcel would base the fee — 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour — on the largest amount of electricity per month that a solar customer has pulled from the grid during the last year, which equals the added amount of electricity the utility needs to factor into its reserve capacity.

On average, this would cost a person adding a 4.5-kilowatt solar array to his home an additional $1.90 a month, Henley said, on top of the regular charge for any electricity actually consumed from the grid.

But renewable energy companies, who are skeptical of that math, say the fee will hurt Colorado’s solar industry and accuse Xcel of not fairly crediting solar-panel owners for the benefits they provide.

“It’s going to have a tremendously negative effect on the solar industry in Colorado if Xcel’s proposal is approved,” said Blake Jones, president of Namaste Solar in Boulder. “Solar-system owners are actually providing a benefit to the utility, to the grid and to other rate payers.”

Putting solar panels on an existing roof allows Xcel to add carbon-free energy — which helps the company meet its state-mandated renewable-energy requirements — while using existing infrastructure, since the house is already hooked up to the grid. This saves the company money on construction and transmission lines, Jones said.

The state’s Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on the rate increase Aug. 5. If the commission approves it, Xcel will become the first utility in the country to charge net-metered solar customers a fee just for having access to the grid when they need it, Jones said. In some states, such as California, it’s illegal for utilities to levy this kind of fee.

“This is something that’s not happening anywhere in the country,” Jones said. “This is not a good thing. This is not part of the vision we have for Colorado’s new energy economy.”

April 23, 2009

SunPower Reports First-Quarter 2009 Results

Filed under: EXC, FPL, PCG, SPWR, XEL — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 4:05 pm

Thursday April 23, 2009, 4:05 pm EDT

– Signed 3-year, 300 to 600 MW supply agreement with FPL Group in April 2009

– Awarded 17 MW power plant agreement with Xcel Energy in April 2009

– Announced 8 MW power plant development agreement with Exelon in April 2009

– Received regulatory approval of 210 MW power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric

– Booked more than $60 million in North American commercial systems projects

– Began construction of SunPower’s first Italian power plant with Api Nova

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced financial results for its 2009 first quarter which ended March 29, 2009. Revenue for the 2009 first quarter was $214 million and compares to revenues of $401 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 and $274 million in the first quarter of last year. The Components and Systems segments each accounted for 50% of first-quarter 2009 revenue.

“The first quarter of 2009 was the most challenging quarter we’ve seen since SunPower went public in 2005,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO. “Our quarterly performance was impacted by seasonality, the continuing effects of the credit crisis and difficult economic conditions. Despite these headwinds we were able to deliver strong gross margins in our Components business and positive non-GAAP net income. We have responded to current market conditions by moving to a demand-driven manufacturing model and reducing our planned operating expenses to align with our adjusted revenue outlook. Our recent announcements with FPL Group (FPL), Exelon (EXC) and Xcel (XEL) are representative of the range of opportunities in our utility and power plant business pipeline. Looking forward, we see positive trends emerging in a number of market segments, including the rooftop, distributed power plant and utility markets that give us confidence that we are well positioned for growth in the second half of 2009, 2010 and beyond.

“We were also pleased to announce today our expanded partnership with FPL Group through a significant supply agreement for future solar projects. This builds on our successful commencement of construction of the 25 megawatt DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in the first quarter of 2009. We look forward to working with FPL Group on future solar power plants around the country,” Werner concluded.

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April 7, 2009

SunPower To Build Plant For Xcel; FBR Cuts Ests; Shrs Off

Filed under: SPWR, XEL — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 3:23 pm

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) this morning announced an agreement to build a 17 MW solar power plant in Alamosa, County, Colorado for Xcel Energy (XEL). SunPower said that when completed at the end of 2010, the plant will be “the second-largest high-efficiency solar PV power plant in North America.” The project is expected to create 200 jobs during the construction phase.

The deal is contingent on approval of the Colorado PUC and project financing.

Meanwhile, Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Mehdi Hosseini this morning chopped his EPS estimate on SunPower this morning to reflect continued erosion of average selling prices. Hosseini writes that “despite the brand recognition that SPWRA has in the U.S. market, the severe ASP decline has made it difficult for SPWRA to keep its premium at the levels similar to CY 2008.”

For 2009, his EPS estimate goes to $1.18, from $1.41; for 2010, he now sees $1.16, down from $1.49. And he notes that while small scale projects – those under 5 megawatts – are beginning to receive required funding – financing for larger projects “still face headwinds” and longer and stricter due diligence.

Hosseini cut his price target on the stock to $28, from $33.

SPWRA today is down $1.56, or 6.3%, to $23.06.

Xcel Energy and SunPower Sign Contract to Build 17-Megawatt Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant in Colorado

Filed under: FPL, PCG, SPWR, XEL — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Tuesday April 7, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

DENVER, April 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Xcel Energy (XEL) and SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, today announced an agreement to build a 17-megawatt AC photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Colorado’s Alamosa County. When completed at the end of 2010, the power plant will be the second-largest high-efficiency solar PV power plant in North America. It is expected to create approximately 200 jobs during construction.

“We believe that solar power generation will play an increasingly vital role in our efforts to meet the wishes of our Colorado customers for more renewable, clean energy sources,” said Tim Taylor, president and CEO for Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “SunPower’s experienced approach to solar power plant design and construction will allow us to quickly complete this important project.”

The plant will use SunPower® Tracker systems, which generate up to 30 percent more energy per land area than conventional systems and reduce land-use requirements. SunPower Trackers tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy capture and providing more power on hot summer days when utilities need it most.

“Today, high-efficiency solar PV technology is competitively-priced for power plant applications. It’s fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power, particularly during peak demand hours,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “We congratulate Xcel Energy for providing leadership in the promotion of solar power development, and for demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment.”

Xcel Energy is ranked as the fifth-largest utility provider of solar power in the nation. In Colorado, the company has acquired more than 25 megawatts of on-site solar generation from homes and businesses participating in Xcel’s Solar*Rewards rebate program. In addition, the company buys power from an 8.2-megawatt solar farm adjacent to where the new facility will be built. The company also is the nation’s number one utility provider for wind power, and is working to meet various renewable energy standards in many of the eight states in which it serves.

By the end of 2010, the largest high-efficiency solar PV plant in North America will be the 25-megawatt (AC) Florida Power & Light (FPL) plant that SunPower is currently building and expects to complete by the end of this year; Alamosa will be the second-largest facility. The FPL plant is almost twice the size of North America’s largest operating solar PV plant, the 12-megawatt (AC) (14-megawatt (DC)) array at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, also built by SunPower. SunPower has a contract to build a 210-megawatt (AC) (250-megawatt (DC)) solar power plant for Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PCG) in California, which is expected to be complete in 2012.

Construction of the new Alamosa project is contingent on factors including approval by the Colorado Public Utility Commission and project financing.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company that provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in eight Western and Midwestern states. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at http://www.xcelenergy.com.

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