The new rules must be ready by October 1 ... not too much longer now. How will projects be chosen to fit under the total program size? What requirements will be made of subscriber organizations? What preference will be given to solar gardens that include farmers or low income people? Public input can have an impact, and anyone may comment.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is developing rules for HR1342, the Community Solar Gardens Act. If you are interested in being part of this discussion, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will bring your concerns forward as part the Solar Gardens Institute PUC filing.
Solar Gardens Act author Claire Levy tells me that XCEL or Black Hills will select those solar gardens over 500 kilowatts that go under competitive bidding. The smaller gardens will go under a standard offer from the utility - XCEL is developing theirs this month. The PUC will decide how the solar gardens under the standard offer are allocated, given the program's limited size.
More Solar Gardens, Please!
Given the wide interest in solar gardens, it's certain there will be far more applications than the 6 Megawatt cap for the first three years. In order for the program to make a serious dent in Colorado's carbon consumption, we are going to have to ramp this up by a factor of ten to 60 megawatts a year! This would allow 1 in 20 by 2020 to become solar garden subscribers (with an equal number getting solar on their own roofs). A plan like this would require a shift in public and private investment away from fossil fuels and solar megaprojects and towards distributed energy.