New Colorado law aims to ‘modernize’ state’s community solar program

May 27, 2024 | by

New Colorado law aims to ‘modernize’ state’s community solar program

(A community solar farm and agrivoltaic research project in Colorado. In the Midwest, an Iowa experiment aims to maximize the carbon capture potential of farmland solar sites. Credit: Werner Slocum / NREL

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed SB24-207 into law. The bill is bipartisan legislation meant to modernize the state’s long-standing community solar program and set up a new dispatchable distributed generation program.

“All Coloradans, regardless of income level or homeownership status, should be able to participate in the transition to renewable energy,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, sponsor of SB24-207. “With the signing of this bill, we have taken a major step to remove barriers to accessing solar energy — like homeownership or credit score requirements — to ensure renters, non-profits, and small businesses can take part without breaking the bankWith unprecedented federal funding opportunities through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, now is the perfect time to revitalize Colorado’s community solar program and ensure our state remains a leader in renewable, clean energy use.”

In April, the EPA’s Solar for All program awarded the Colorado Energy Office a $156 million grant to provide loans and incentives for community solar development, including directly funding community solar projects in the state.

“Colorado led the nation in 2010 when it became the first state to pass legislation truly enabling a third party community solar program model,” said Kevin Cray, Mountain West senior director of Coalition for Community Solar Access. “It was time for an upgrade. Today’s action by Gov. Polis will reinvigorate Colorado community solar, positioning the state to regain its leadership position in providing equitable clean energy options for customers. We are grateful for Gov. Polis’ leadership on this vital issue and applaud the bipartisan support this legislation received.”

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The new law will:

  • Deliver bill savings of 25-55% to thousands of additional income-qualified Colorado households;
  • Reserve at least 51% of each community solar project for income-qualified residential subscribers;
  • Prioritize projects sited on preferred locations, like rooftops and brownfields, and drive dual-use practices, such as agrivoltaics; and
  • Update the methods that third-party stakeholders use to develop community solar projects with investor-owned utilities.

“SB24-207 represents a significant step towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for Colorado. By prioritizing community solar and implementing measures to reduce barriers for income-qualified individuals, this legislation sets a new standard for equitable energy access. We applaud the governor and legislature for their commitment to bringing communities along in the energy transition,” said Yara Marin, Interior West Regional Director for Vote Solar.


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