Some sort of weird incentive program has been approved by the PUC. From the Denver Post article:
"Under a new incentive plan approved by the commission, Xcel could recover from ratepayers all costs for programs that encourage customers to use energy more efficiently. Xcel also could receive bonuses if it meets certain targets." Is it just me, but isn't this some kind of circular logic? Here's another way to say it, and it's hard to believe the Post can write this with a straight face: "Xcel will recover from ratepayers all costs for programs that encourage ratepayers to use less." Auugghhh!
How about a rate-based incentive program? That's how the rest of our economy works. You are charged the cost of a service plus a profit. The amount of profit is determined by the market price.
Since Xcel is a monopoly, the market price is set by the PUC. Therefore the market price should be the cost plus the 10% profit that Xcel is allowed by law.
The problem is that the rate structure doesn't reflect actual costs.
The smart metering initiative will solve this problem, so incentive programs like this are unnecessary because normal economic laws of the marketplace will naturally encourage conservation and alternative energy.