Published on July 8th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers5
Colorado PUC Reverses Decision, Approves Community Solar Gardens
July 8th, 2016 by Glenn Meyers
Originally published on Planetsave.
For the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, June was a month of changes for the future of renewable electricity and solar gardens in this state.
Here is why: At June’s end, PV-Tech reported the Colorado PUC reversed an earlier decision it had rendered by approving the deployment of community solar gardens.
The regulatory agency granted reconsideration of a proposal by the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, and three solar companies, for community solar gardens which had earlier been rejected. Community solar gardens provide scope for virtual net-metering to those wanting to go solar but who are unable to have panels on their own property, and were part of Xcel’s wider Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan.
According to SEIA, having access to such a local renewable electricity power center benefits numerous participants.
“Shared renewable energy arrangements allow several energy customers to share the benefits of one local renewable energy power plant. When the power is supplied strictly by solar energy, it is sometimes called “community solar.” The shared renewables project pools investments from multiple members of a community and provides power and/or financial benefits in return.”
Following a hearing on the first of June and the submission of further evidence, the PUC reversed its initial ruling, finding that the parties had demonstrated to a sufficient degree that the proposal was in the public interest. The Commission found that the scheme would in particular benefit low-income individuals and businesses that wished to promote solar energy.
Xcel now has approval to go ahead with its plan to develop 29.5 MW of power from community solar gardens as part of the RES compliance plan. The projects will be built by SunShare, Clean Energy Collective, and Community Solar Energy – the three winners of Xcel’s 2015 tender.
Prior to the decision reversal, all projects under the compliance plan had ground to a halt, prompting the companies to file a settlement agreement with the PUC. In it they attempted to amend certain issues that caused the Commission to question the scheme and rule that the proposed modifications were not sufficient to make the scheme in the public interest.
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