Colorado’s electricity customers will gain greater access to local clean power production after another boost to the state’s burgeoning community solar market. Clean Energy Collective (CEC), a leading community solar solutions provider, has reached an agreement with Xcel Energy on the utility’s community solar gardens program, resulting in up to 60 MW of additional community solar allocation.
The outcome of the collaborative negotiation with Xcel Energy and other community solar providers establishes the level of community solar capacity the regulated utility will acquire in its Solar*Rewards Community program for 2016. The agreement also revises the bill credit for commercial/industrial rate classes, adds co-location specifications, and adds an Xcel Energy carve-out for low-income households and non-profits.
“We are pleased to have worked closely with Xcel Energy to help ensure the Solar*Rewards Community program is a win for everyone,” said Paul Spencer, founder and CEO of Clean Energy Collective. “This process demonstrates how successful collaboration between utilities and the solar industry can lead to more choice for customers, and good business for both the utility and their solar partners.”
Since engaging a local cooperative utility in Western Colorado that spawned the country’s first community-owned solar project, CEC’s approach has centered on building and fostering utility alliance and foresees community solar continuing to be the proving ground for these mutually-beneficial relationships. To date CEC has built or has under development more than 90 RooflessSolar projects with 25 utility partners across 11 states, representing more than 160 MW of community solar capacity.
The agreement with Xcel Energy, which must be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, includes these implementation issues:
- Xcel Energy will acquire between 6.5 MW and 30 MW of community solar capacity through the Solar*Rewards Community Program for the 2014 allotment and 2016 allotment, seeking to add the maximum for each.
- Adopts language for the 2016 RFP specifying distance and capacity parameters for co-locating multiple community solar facilities.
- For the 2015 RFP, community solar developers may elect to receive a $0.03/kWh REC provided that customer bill credits are also calculated on a class-average basis.
- Permits the application of the class-average bill credit for commercial and industrial rates instead of a customer-specific rate calculation, allowing Xcel Energy to revise the rules for further program expansion and smoother implementation for both participants and non-participants.
- Provides Xcel Energy ownership of up to 4 megawatts of community solar capacity to exclusively serve low-income customers and non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
Clean Energy Collective currently operates 12 community solar facilities in the Solar*Rewards program with 5.5 MW of capacity, and has eight new facilities under development representing 12 MW from the 2015 allocation.
— Solar Builder magazine