[Link to Black Hills Energy's webpage]
H.B. 1342 of 2010 authorized the development of community solar gardens (CSGs) in the service territory of investor-owned utilities in Colorado. H.B. 1003, enacted in 2019 increased the maximum size of a CSG from 2 megawatts to 5 megawatts, and allowed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to increase the maximum size to 10 megawatts beginning July 1, 2023. The legislation also removed the requirement that a CSG subscriber's identified physical location be in the same or adjacent county as the CSG, though both locations must be within the service territory of the same investor-owned utility.
A facility must have at least 10 subscribers. Subscriptions must be at least 1 kW and cannot exceed 120% of the subscriber's average annual electricity consumption. Subscribers are credited at the total aggregate retail rate, and any unused credits are rolled over indefinitely. Income-qualified subscribers can receive assistance with their application through Energy Outreach Colorado.
Community Geothermal Gardens
In 2022, S.B. 118 created the Community Geothermal Gardens program. A community geothermal garden is defined as a geothermal facility under 5 MW that produces electricity from the earth's heat. The rules for the geothermal program are the same as for solar program.
Municipal Utilities and Electric Cooperatives
Municipal utilities and cooperatives are not required to offer community gardens, but can voluntarily offer them if they choose. If a cooperative wants to use a community garden to meet its renewable energy standard requirements for retail distributed generation, it must follow certain rules: it must be 2 MW or less, located within its service territory, and must generate electricity for the beneficial use of subscribers who are cooperative customers. A facility must have at least four subscribers if 50 kW or less, and at least 10 subscribers if over 50 kW. Subscriptions cannot exceed 120% of the subscriber's average annual electricity consumption. Cooperatives' gardens do not have to use solar or geothermal specifically; any renewable energy resource is eligible. Cooperatives have the right to determine the credit rate, REC ownership, low-income provisions, and other rules.