Xcel Energy wins Colorado PUC blessing for ‘solar gardens’

After hearing more information, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission recently granted reconsideration of a proposal by Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) and three solar companies regarding purchase of community solar gardens (CSGs) in connections with Xcel’s 2014-2016 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan.

In a 2014 decision, the PUC had directed Xcel Energy to acquire between 19.5 MW and 90 MW of community solar garden capacity by the end of 2016, and that requirement had not been altered by the settlement proposal, the PUC said.

The settlement was entered into by Xcel, Sunshare, Clean Energy Collective and Community Solar Energy. The three companies build and run community solar gardens and were declared by Xcel as the winning bidders of the company’s 2015 competitive solicitation for 29.5 MW of CSG resources.

The PUC, which is a division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) approved a settlement agreement addressing the Xcel solar garden program, the PUC said in a June 28 news release.

The PUC found that testimony and legal arguments presented during a June 1 rehearing adequately showed that the proposed agreement was in the public interest.

The PUC had in March rejected the proposal for lack of sufficient details.

Based on the additional evidence, the PUC said the agreement will spread the benefits of solar gardens among as many customers as possible. “Among the issues resolved by the rehearing were questions about the 3 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh) renewable energy credit (REC) price and the method for deciding customer bill credits for the community gardens.

The Colorado PUC also approved a recommendation that the company work with PUC staff on a report on how community solar gardens are being deployed and subscribed.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.