In his testimony last week to the U.S. Senate, Governor Bill Ritter bragged about Colorado's fledgling "new energy economy." Despite the buzz, the United States lags behind smaller nations, like Germany and Spain, when it comes to demand for solar power. But that's changing. Demand in the U.S. will surpass Spain this year and Germany by 2013, according to a report released yesterday by Pike Research of Boulder, raising a new concern: Although government subsidies for solar projects are on the rise, "financing for solar projects remains elusive," which means the U.S. may not be able to meet all of the new demand, writes the Denver Business Journal. Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain Independent reports that Xcel Energy is considering "zapping customers with a fee when they don't use electricity." That's right, the company could charge customers who depend on solar power a connectivity fee to cover the expense of providing "backup" capacity on the power grid. That has left some new-energy-economy lovers angry as the date of a Public Utilities Commission meeting (August 5) approaches.