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Colorado Ramps Up Community Solar Production

Community solar is not a new concept and was even started in Colorado. After starting in 2012 Colorado soon fell behind in overall capacity across the United States. Trailing Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts. Community solar is on the rise in the state as of 2019 for quite a few reasons. Let's go over them!



*Pictured* Solar field in Gilcrest Colorado


Size Limitations


Up until recent legislation change in Colorado the maximum size of a community solar field could only be up to 2 megawatts. These projects (much like most things) become cheaper at scale. The larger the project developed the cheaper it is overall for parts, labor, and land.


The increase over doubled the previous limitation and set it to 5 megawatts. This created an opportunity for the main developers of these projects to start up and guarantee energy cost savings for residents over the next 25 years. That is what makes these projects so appealing for the community.



Location Limitations


Previous to the changes Colorado had what was called an adjacency rule. This meant that any solar garden in a county can only benefit customers of that same utility within the same county or one adjacent to it. This made it difficult for companies to hire new employees (especially on the sales side) as the work would be inconsistent within a certain area. A project may go on for 4 months in that area, but once that was over the next project may be across the state!


The recent changes made it possible for any customer on the same utility grid (assuming they are in the same state) to receive the benefits of the program. Everyone is obligated to pay for the projects with their taxes so it is only fair everyone can benefit from each project.


The other major benefit with this rule is allowing the projects to be dispersed. Previously the target would be in the heavily populated areas in order to help more receive the benefits of the programs. This causes an influx on the grid in certain areas where it has not gone through the proper maintenance to handle the extra capacity. Now that the projects are able to go anywhere within the grid, we see them strategically placed where new power sources are a necessity and create a more reliable grid for everyone!


New Funding Available to Developers


It was no secret that the inflation reduction act has increased the solar tax credit. The credit was increased from 26% with a decrease scheduled yearly to 30% fixed for the next decade. This has created a massive amount of reassurance to the businesses within the solar industry making it a guaranteed market for years to come.


This allowed for doubling down on more investments with the newfound job security. Millions of families nationwide are now going to benefit from locally produced power. The cost savings is scheduled to be roughly $500/year per household.


Consensus


Overall Colorado has always been an energy conscious state. As of recently change has happened in the right direction for us all to walk the talk. These exciting developments are creating tens of thousands of jobs as well as millions of dollars saved for the average energy users. If there are any more questions on these projects or how you can get involved, check out our frequently asked questions page!




Citations

“Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act.” Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act | Colorado General Assembly, Chris Hansen, 29 Apr. 2019, https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1003.


“By the Numbers: The Inflation Reduction Act.” The White House, The United States Government, 15 Aug. 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/15/by-the-numbers-the-inflation-reduction-act/.





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