Local, smaller scale solar PV project developers are showing very strong interest in building “solar gardens” in Colorado. So many applied for Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community solar gardens program in August—the first time it’s been opened to project developers—that the utility had to close the application window just 30 minutes after it opened.
During that time, Xcel received applications for three times the solar PV capacity allowed under current state law, according to a report from Boulder’s Daily Camera. Xcel’s aiming to install some 4.5-MW of solar power capacity from solar PV systems with total rated capacity less than or equal to 500-kW.
“The success of this initial offering and the fact that it subscribed so quickly clearly shows that this is a beneficial and desirable program for our Colorado customers,” commented Xcel subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado president and CEO, David Eves. “Solar*Rewards Community makes solar energy available to a new, broad group of customers and we are pleased with the interest shown today.”
People living in co-ops, condos, apartments and townhouses—be they owners or renters—may have the desire to install and enjoy the benefits of clean, local and renewable power generation, but they typically lack the space and/or property rights necessary to have solar PV systems installed. That’s where the solar gardens concept and PSC Colorado’s Solar Rewards Community program comes in.
“The Solar*Rewards Community standard offer was designed for Colorado customers who could not, for various reasons, take advantage of other solar programs, because they were renting, lived in multi-family dwellings or did not have homes or businesses suitable for solar installations,” Xcel explains in a press release. “Customers are now able to purchase renewable energy through solar project developers from a community-based photovoltaic system.”
To date, Xcel’s installed more than 10,000 solar PV systems with more than 110-MW of power capacity in Colorado and paid out $245 million in incentives to Solar Rewards Community program participants. In this new element of the program, so-called “subscriber organizations” will install community solar gardens and receive production incentives from Xcel Energy, according to the utility. In turn, they’ll market, sell or lease shares in the solar gardens to subscribing customers in their communities on their own terms.
PSC Colorado on Aug. 16 also opened a second solar power community development program—the Solar Rewards Community Request for Proposal—for solar garden projects ranging in capacity from 500-kW to 2-MW. Developer proposals for this program will be accepted through Sept. 14.
By allowing community solar power project developers to participate in its Solar Rewards Community, Xcel is essentially allowing Colorado’s solar PV project developers and its customers to participate in local, community solar PV installations built and operated by one of the country’s largest electric utilities.
Source: Triple Pundit