|Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Photovoltaics
Eligibility and Availability
In December 2005 the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted standards for net metering and interconnection, as required by Amendment 37, a renewable energy ballot initiative approved by Colorado voters in November 2004.
Customer-generators are eligible for net metering in Colorado for retail renewable distributed generation. The following sections describe the rules that apply to investor-owned utilities (IOUs), with last section detailing net metering for municipal utilities and electric cooperatives. All utilities subject to the below net metering rules are required to provide net metering service at non-discriminatory rates to customer-generators.
Systems sized up to 120% of the customer's annual average consumption that generate electricity using qualifying renewable energy resources are eligible for net metering in IOU service territories.
If a customer-generator does not own a single bi-directional meter, then the utility must provide one free of charge. Systems over 10 kilowatts (kW) in capacity require a second meter to measure the output for the counting of renewable energy credits (RECs).
S.B. 18-009, passed in March 2018, establishes that solar-plus-storage systems are eligible for net metering.
Net Excess Generation
Any customer's net excess generation (NEG) in a given month is applied as a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit to the customer's next bill, with each kWh credit of NEG off-setting 1 kWh of electricity consumption in a future month. If in a calendar year a customer's generation exceeds consumption, or if the customer-generator terminates its retail service, the utility must reimburse the customer for the NEG at the utility's average hourly incremental cost over the most recent calendar year.
Net metering customers may make a one-time election in writing on or before the end of the calendar year to have their NEG carried forward from month-to-month indefinitely. If the customer chooses this option, they will surrender all their kWh credits when they terminate service with their utility.
Renewable Energy Credits
The customer-generator retains ownership of any RECs associated with the energy generated by the customer-generator’s system. A utility may acquire the RECs by purchasing them from the customer-generator through a standard offer. All contracts for RECs for solar electric technologies located on site at customer facilities are required to have a minimum term of 20 years if the system is under 100 kW.
A single customer with multiple meters located on contiguous property may elect to have their generator offset the load measured at more than one meter, a policy commonly referred to as “meter aggregation.” A customer who wants to aggregate their meters under net metering must give the utility a 30-day notice and specify the order in which they want their kWh credits applied to the multiple meters. All affected meters must be on the same rate schedule.
Municipal Utilities and Electric Cooperatives
Colorado enacted legislation in March 2008 requiring municipal utilities with more than 5,000 customers and all electric cooperatives to offer net metering for residential systems up to 10 kW and commercial and industrial systems up to 25 kW (see H.B. 1160). Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities are authorized to exceed these minimum size standards.
Any customer's NEG in a given month is applied as a kWh credit to the customer's next bill, with each kWh credit of NEG off-setting 1 kWh of electricity consumption in a future month. Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities are required to pay for any remaining NEG at the end of an annual period based on a "rate deemed appropriate" by the electric cooperative or municipal utility.