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Published on July 8th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


Colorado PUC Reverses Decision, Approves Community Solar Gardens

July 8th, 2016 by  

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.
Colorado sun shutterstock_215450692 (1)
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.

Image via Shutterstock

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • plainview2

    Does anyone have a model of community finance using local banks and property taxes to better develop community solar for the benefit of the ratepayer?

  • Epicurus

    Prior to the reversal, it would be interesting to know how the PUC determined that community solar was not in the public interest.

  • Frank Burke

    So hard to read this as other than the PUC being total tools and doing what they thought was big util’s bidding by swatting down solar where they thought they could…only to then have to do a miraculously adept, quick and seemingly obsequious 180-spin move, the instant that big util Papa rolled over and burped at them.

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    • Ha, nice imagery there 😀

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