Proposed Bill Would Allow Communities to Share Solar Benefits

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Regardless of how much you’d like to, if you rent an apartment or a condo you can’t put in solar power. Even if you own a house, but its gables are badly angled against sun exposure, or it has a shaded rooftop; you can’t add solar. And if you live in a state like Colorado, that is 70% powered by coal, and you are cognisant of what that is doing to our future, that presents you with a problem.


A solution is suggested by Colorado State Rep Claire Levy (D-Boulder) who has proposed a bill that would allow multiple people to buy into shares of an off-site solar installation and, like shareholders, all receive a portion of the benefits of the solar energy, from installation cost reductions to any net-metering credits for excess electric generation.

The bill would allow off-site solar installations that are community-owned to qualify for the state’s renewable energy rebates. These are offered through Xcel Energy, to meet a Renewable Energy Standard that requires the utility to add more renewable energy.

Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution! Being able to take advantage of solar incentives for could be a huge boon to community groups of all kinds, from churches to schools to gardening clubs. Community rebates could be a great model to other states where urban dwellers lack rooftops of their own.

Levy told the Daily Camera that:

“It’s for people who are renters, who live in condominium projects and don’t have rooftops, people whose lots are shaded, people whose houses aren’t the right orientation — a whole variety of things.”

Communities would share the $2,000 per KW Solar Rewards rebate that local utility Xcel Energy must reimburse to Colorado customers, that helps reduce the upfront cost of solar per kilowatt installed. Xcel is allowed to add 35 cents to each monthly bill to help pay for the rebate program. A 10 KW system would be eligible for a $20,000 rebate.

The green attributes of clean electricity can also be sold under a newly developed carbon market that places a value on the benefits of clean energy to our communities. This market is designed to get energy companies to invest in renewable energy.

Companies that pollute need to buy credits if they don’t switch to renewable energy. These credits then count toward the company’s Renewable Energy Standard requirements. Under that law, the utility would pay out these solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for 20 years.

In effect, these SRECs mean that Xcel is now investing in renewable energy. This utility is just not building it, but instead, paying you to build it. The income you receive from the SRECs helps you pay off the solar loan by paying out a predictable cash income over time.

Nationwide, state by state rebates and subsidies and new funding mechanisms like these cap and trade carbon markets that are available to help businesses, communities, churches, schools, and individual homeowners pay for solar, wind and other renewable energy projects are detailed at DSIRE.

Image:  Community-owned church solar project

Source: Getsolar via Richard Walthers

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