Xcel Energy and solar developers have announced an agreement that will continue to give Colorado customers the ability to access solar generation through the company’s successful Solar*Rewards Community program.
Xcel Energy, Clean Energy Collective, Community Energy Inc. and SunShare filed a settlement with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to add up to 60 MW of community solar in Colorado through a request for proposals in 2016. A community solar garden is a community-shared solar array, with grid-connected subscribers, which allows consumers to access the benefits of solar energy without needing to install rooftop systems.
In the agreement, Xcel Energy also committed to participate in ownership of up to 4 megawatts of community solar, which will exclusively serve low-income customers and non- profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
“Community solar has the great advantage of being able to bring solar to customers who cannot otherwise access this form of generation. This settlement is a prime example of Xcel Energy’s efforts to deliver to its customers more choices for their energy needs, including our low-income and non-profit customers,” said David Eves, president of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.
“We are glad to implement this settlement agreement, which keeps solar gardens growing in Colorado,” said Eric Blank, executive vice president and founder of Community Energy Inc.
“We are pleased to work closely with Xcel Energy to help ensure the Solar*Rewards Community program is a win for everyone. The outcome is a testament to the value of community solar in the state’s current and future energy strategy,” said Paul Spencer, founder and CEO of Clean Energy Collective.
“SunShare is proud to collaborate with Xcel Energy and others to continue to innovate and push Colorado to be a leader in community solar,” said David Amster-Olszewski, founder and CEO of SunShare. “By working together, we are advancing access to renewable energy for thousands of Coloradans.”
The agreement, which must be approved by the CPUC, proposes to address several issues that had been contested by parties in recent years:
Resolution of community solar “request for proposals” for 2014 and 2016. By CPUC rules, between 6.5 megawatts and 30 megawatts of community solar can be added per year. Xcel Energy will now seek to add up to the maximum amount allowed;
Revision to customer-specific rate calculations for commercial and industrial customers, on a going-forward basis (current solar garden customers will not be impacted). Long term, this will allow Xcel Energy to revise the rules for the further expansion of the program, and keep costs lower for both participants and non- participants; and
Provide transparency and clarity for potential community solar garden providers to ensure a broad marketplace for participation.
In January, Xcel Energy announced Our Energy Future, a vision and strategy to empower customer choice and control, empower technology and power economic development through a series of filings with the CPUC in 2016. Xcel Energy is seeking to give its Colorado customers more control over their energy use, while preparing for the future energy demands of the state and keeping rates competitive.
Colorado was the first state in the nation to establish community solar garden legislation, allowing all customers access to solar energy, regardless of homeownership or financial restrictions.
The Energy Times will be convening a pathbreaking conference, The California Renewables Rush, in San Francisco on April 6, 2016, that will explore the rising tide of renewables in the West and its national implications.