Guest column: Holy Cross Energy engages more statewide dialogue on rate structure

Bryan Hannegan
Holy Cross Energy
Bryan Hannegan.

Since our founding in 1939, Holy Cross Energy (HCE) has provided safe, affordable and reliable electric service to our members. HCE has provided the electricity itself and the means of delivering it to you via our electric grid. Our rates have reflected the costs of the electricity and grid in a single per-kWh energy charge. All the while, HCE has continued to have rates that are among the lowest in Colorado, and thanks to recent investments in new wind and solar projects, HCE is on track to provide greater than 90% clean electricity to its members beginning in early 2024.

Earlier this year, the HCE Board of Directors approved a new rate structure that would have allocated costs more accurately across different types of members, increased our financial sustainability, enabled greater adoption of new technologies and kept our rates competitive with other Colorado utilities while raising our overall revenue by just 2% in 2024.

HCE took public comments on the proposed rate structure for nearly three months, including at a well-attended public meeting with our Board of Directors last May. We heard concerns from low-income HCE members that the demand charge would increase their monthly bills, and we heard concerns from HCE members with rooftop solar that the new structure would reduce the value of their investment, one that is currently heavily subsidized by HCE members who don’t have rooftop solar. In addition, we heard from solar installers that the proposed rate structure would damage their businesses and slow the growth of clean energy. We also received threats of a lawsuit from the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.

Subsequently, in response to a request by the Colorado Energy Office on behalf of Governor Polis, the HCE Board voted in May to pause the proposed rate structure changes, and last week, the Board voted to rescind it altogether. We did so to further enable dialogue and collaboration on a statewide net-metering policy that will meet our needs while also meeting the needs of our members.

We are pleased that the State of Colorado has initiated a more comprehensive and necessary statewide dialogue on net-metering policy in a clean energy future, and we look forward to participating with our friends in the solar industry, consumer advocates, environmental interests, and our fellow electric utilities.

HCE remains committed to leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future in an equitable and inclusive way that can inspire others to act similarly. This means listening to our members and communities when they express concerns, engaging in rational discussion and debate to find common ground, and working together to find solutions that can take us forward on our shared Journey to 100% clean energy. We look forward to working with you on this challenge, and we invite you to join us to help plan our next steps, together.

Bryan Hannegan is President and CEO of Holy Cross Energy, based in Glenwood Springs and serving parts of Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties.

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