Colorado Community Solar Rules May Impede Future Projects

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Community Solar

Regional solar companies are appealing to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for reconsideration on recently passed Colorado community solar rules. According to the companies, the new rules don’t provide clear guidance. They are a potential danger to investment opportunities in the solar industry.

While the Colorado community solar rules passed by the PUC could help expand the market for gardens, the local industry is hoping that the current draft could be rewritten for clarification. According to Colorado Solar and Storage Association (COSSA) head Mike Kruger, the solar industry is at a standstill and doesn’t know how to work with the regulations.

This is especially an issue considering the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any additional delays could severely limit the necessary work done in the solar industry in 2020. Due to the pandemic’s effects, many solar companies have already had to furlough employees or file for bankruptcy.

Kruger confirmed that COSSA will be filing a formal request for PUC to reword the language to make it clearer. The confusion over the Colorado community solar rules came after the solar industry pushed PUC for months to expand what was permitted under the state’s regulations.

Among the industry leaders affected by PUC’s regulations is Xcel Energy. It’s expected that 75-megawatts of community solar projects that Xcel was planning to bid on may be delayed. These projects were estimated at $150 to $200 million for the solar company that wins the bid for construction. Kruger warns that if such projects are pushed further into the future, the local industry will take a massive hit.

One of the bigger concerns regarding a delay in projects is the federal solar investment tax credits that are slated to drop 4% after Dec. 31, 2021. For projects of that caliber, the savings could be in the millions for the winning bidder.

Though the PUC’s regulations were intended to expand community solar, they’ve been a hindrance to the subscription-based programs.


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