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The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a motion from the Colorado Energy Office that will keep net-energy metering (NEM) for the present, splitting the issue off as a separate question to be considered after concerned parties have opportunities to make their cases.

The decision follows strong debate over Xcel Energy's proposed plan to trim the solar incentive programs as part of its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan. Xcel is proposing to cut incentives to customers to less than $0.01/kWh. It also has raised questions about the net metering credit that customers with solar installations get for electricity they send back to the grid.

The PUC says it will take public comments on the issue at a meeting on Feb. 3. A PUC decision on the RES compliance plan is due by July.

The Vote Solar Initiative says the PUC decision removes all NEM-related issues to a new filing that will allow a more thorough discussion of the value and design of the program in Colorado.

"This decision means that we will have the opportunity to shine light on the true benefits of net metering and give all stakeholders an opportunity to weigh in on the future of rooftop solar in Colorado,” says Annie C. Lappe, deputy director of Vote Solar. “We thank the PUC for their leadership on this important solar issue and look forward to making sure that Colorado’s solar customers continue to get a fair deal."

Numerous solar advocacy groups also expressed their pleasure with the PUC's decision.

"This decision today helps ensure a thoughtful discussion about the value of rooftop solar," says Edward Stern, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, in a statement.

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