HB 23-1137 ensures community solar subscribers are given the choice to lock in bill crediting rates and fund beneficial public benefit riders such as low-income bill assistance.
(Denver, CO) — Governor Jared Polis signed HB 23-1337, sponsored by Representative Lukens (D-District 26), Representative Valdez (D-District 5), Senator Roberts (D-District 8) and Senator Hansen (D-District 31), to update Colorado’s community solar gardens (CSG) program to ensure subscribers receive stable bill credits from utilities.
Community solar gardens are off-site solar facilities where customers can sign up for a subscription for a share of the electricity produced to help both offset their energy use and realize savings on their monthly utility bill. In Colorado, bill credits have experienced some instability over the last few years, with community solar subscribers’ credit rates declining even though retail electricity rates have gone up. HB 23-1137 thoughtfully addresses this issue and ensures all Coloradans, including renters, can participate in the clean energy transition.
Under current law, community solar subscribers receive a bill credit that varies annually. With this new law, CSG subscribers can choose to either lock in their net metering credit rate at time of securing program capacity or to have a variable rate that is determined by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) annually. Additionally, the law will ensure that CSG subscribers pay into public benefit riders that are used to fund vital state programs, such as low-income bill assistance and clean energy technology programs.
“By working together with the solar industry and utilities, this law stabilizes the bill credit so the customer has certainty about how much they can save on their electricity bills. It is this stability that will have a positive impact on people and small businesses who are interested in entering this market. By subscribing to a community solar garden, you save money on your monthly bills while being part of the solar economy.” said Rep. Lukens.
“As a former solar entrepreneur, I know first hand the impact renewable energy can have on a community. In my district many constituents and small business owners rent or lease so they can’t put solar on their roofs but they can subscribe to a solar garden. This bill will give customers more flexibility to help lower their energy costs.” stated Rep. Valdez.
“We are proud to work on legislation to give community solar customers and project owners long overdue certainty on their energy bills and investments. These projects help renters, schools and small businesses realize the benefits of solar to lower their electricity bills. This common sense policy will help keep Colorado as a leader on solar deployment.” said Senator Hansen and Senator Roberts.
Community solar projects are located within a community where multiple customers can subscribe and receive credits on their utility bills for their share of the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their own roofs. That means all customers — including residents living in affordable housing units and those communities disproportionately adversely impacted by both fossil fuels and climate change — can participate in the clean energy transition by simply subscribing to a project in their service area. And when paired with energy storage, community solar helps build grid reliability by providing clean power after sunset during peak hours of energy use.
Across the country, community solar is continuing to grow as consumers realize its benefits and federal incentives spur further investment. With guidance for major programs and tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act being released, it is an opportune time for states to review and update their community solar programs.
“Coloradans have already experienced success with their first in the nation CSG programs. But recently, some updates from PUC on methodology for calculating credits were leaving customers uncertain on the amount of bill savings they’d receive. This new bill will help alleviate those issues by giving consumers choice – and ensure community solar is accessible to all those Coloradans who want it.” said Kevin Cray, Senior Regional Director Policy and Government Affairs (Mountain West) at Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA).