Community Solar Gardens Final Rules 7/25/11
These rules were adopted by the Colorado PUC’s administrative law judge. Note that these rules apply ONLY to solar gardens on the territories of XCEL Energy and Black Hills Energy. In municipal and rural electric areas in Colorado, a utility may voluntarily decide to offer a community solar program with their own (most likely different) rules.
(e) “Community solar garden” or “CSG” means a solar electric generation facility with a nameplate rating of two megawatts or less that is located in or near a community served by a QRU where the beneficial use of the electricity generated by the facility belongs to the subscribers of the CSG. A CSG shall have at least ten (10) CSG Subscribers. A CSG shall be deemed to be located on the site of each subscribing customer’s facilities for the purpose of assigning solar electric generation credits. The output from a CSG shall be sold only to the qualifying retail utility serving the geographic area where the CSG is located. The electricity generated by a CSG shall constitute retail distributed generation under paragraph 3652(v).
(I) “CSG Subscriber” means a retail customer of a QRU who owns a subscription to a CSG and who has identified one or more physical locations to which the subscription shall be attributed.
(II) “CSG Subscriber Organization” means any for-profit or nonprofit entity permitted by Colorado law and whose sole purpose shall be:
(III) “CSG Owner” means the owner of the solar generation facilities installed at a CSG that contracts to sell the output from the CSG to the QRU. A CSG Subscriber Organization operating a CSG not owned by it will be deemed to be a CSG Owner for purposes of these rules. A CSG Owner may be the QRU or any other for-profit or nonprofit entity or organization, including a CSG Subscriber Organization, which contracts to sell the output from the CSG to the QRU.
(IV) “CSG Subscription” means a proportionate interest in the beneficial use of electricity generated by the CSG, including without limitation, energy and renewable energy credits associated with or attributable to the CSG.
(fe) “Compliance year” means a calendar year for which the renewable energy standard is applicable.
(I) to beneficially own and operate the CSG; or
(II) to operate the CSG that is built, owned, and operated by a third party under contract with such CSG Subscriber Organization.
(gf) “Eligible energy” means renewable energy and recycled energy.
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(hg) “Eligible energy resources” are renewable energy resources or facilities that generate recycled energy.
(i) An Eligible Low-Income CSG Subscriber means a residential utility customer who:
(I) Has a household income at or below one hundred eighty-five percent of the current federal poverty level, as published each year in the federal register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and
(II) Otherwise meets the eligibility criteria set forth in rules of the Colorado Department of Human Services adopted pursuant to § 40-8.5-105, C.R.S.
3665. Community Solar Gardens.
The following rules covering Community Solar Gardens (CSG) shall apply to all CSG developed pursuant to § 40-2-127, C.R.S.
CSG Subscriptions, Subscribers, and Subscriber Organizations (I) Requirements for CSG Subscribers, CSG Subscriptions, and CSG Subscriber
Organizations: (A) No CSG Subscriber may subscribe for more than forty percent of the output of
(B) Each CSG Subscription shall be sized to represent at least one kW of the CSG’s generating capacity and supply no more than one hundred twenty percent of the average annual consumption of electricity by the CSG Subscriber at the premises to which the subscription is attributed, with a deduction for the amount of any existing solar facilities at such premises. The minimum one kW sizing requirement herein shall not apply to subscription owned by an Eligible Low- Income CSG Subscriber.
(C) The premise to which a subscription is attributed by a CSG Subscriber shall be one for which such CSG Subscriber maintains an account with the QRU and shall be within either the same municipality or the same county as the CSG except that, if a subscriber’s designated premise is located in a county with a population of less than 20,000 residents according to the most recent available census figures, the designated premise may be in another county adjacent to the county where the CSG is located, so long as the adjacent county also has a population of less than 20,000 residents and is within the service territory of the QRU. The CSG Subscriber may change from time to time the premises to which the CSG electricity generation shall be attributed, so long as the premises are within the geographical limits allowed for a subscriber to the CSG.
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(D) No CSG Subscriber Organization may subscribe for more than forty percent of the output of the CSG in its own name after the CSG has operated commercially for 18 months.
(II) Share Transfers and Portability:
(A) A CSG Subscription may be transferred or assigned to a CSG Subscriber Organization or to any person or entity who qualifies to be a subscriber in the CSG.
(B) A CSG Subscriber who desires to transfer or assign all or part of his subscription to the CSG Subscriber Organization, in its own name or to become unsubscribed shall notify the CSG Subscriber Organization and the transfer of the subscription to the CSG Subscriber Organization shall be effective upon such notification, unless the CSG Subscriber specifies a later effective date.
(C) A CSG Subscriber who desires to transfer or assign all or part of his subscription to an eligible QRU customer desiring to purchase a subscription may do so only in compliance with the terms and conditions of the subscription and will be effective in accordance therewith.
(D) If the CSG is fully subscribed, the CSG Subscriber Organization shall maintain a waiting list of eligible QRU customers who desire to purchase subscriptions. The CSG Subscriber Organization shall offer the CSG Subscription of the CSG Subscriber desiring to transfer or assign their interest, or a portion thereof, on a first-come, first-serve basis to customers on the waiting list.
(E) The CSG Subscriber Organization and the QRU shall jointly verify that each CSG Subscriber is eligible to be a subscriber in the CSG pursuant to rule 3665(a)(I). Changes in the subscriber rolls of the CSG, including the effective date of changes, shall be communicated by the CSG Subscriber Organization to the QRU, in written or electronic form, as soon as practicable but on no less than a monthly basis.
(F) Prices paid for subscriptions in a CSG shall not be subject to regulation by the Commission.
(G) A CSG Subscriber may change the premises from time to time to which the CSG electricity generation shall be attributed, so long as the premises are within the geographical limits allowed for a subscriber in that CSG.
(b) Production Data Reporting from CSGs to QRUs and CSG Subscribers.
(I) CSGs 1 MW in capacity or greater shall register and report their production data to the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS) in accordance with rule 3659(j).
(II) CSGs are required to provide real time reporting of production as specified by the QRU. A QRU may require different real time reporting based on system size.
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(III) Production from the CSG shall be reported by the CSG Subscriber Organization to its CSG Subscribers at least monthly. To facilitate the tracking of production data by CSG Subscribers, CSG owners or CSG Subscriber Organizations are encouraged to provide website access to subscribers showing real time output from the CSG, if practicable, as well as historical production data.
(c) Billing and Net Metering Credits.
(I) Compensation to the CSG Subscriber for their share of the output from a CSG shall take the form of a virtual net metering credit against the CSG Subscriber’s bill from the QRU.
(A) The virtual net metering credit to a residential customer shall be calculated by multiplying the CSG Subscriber’s share as a percentage of the generation from the CSG times the QRU’s total aggregate retail rate (including all billed components) as charged to the CSG Subscriber.
(B) For the purpose of calculating the net metering credit for a commercial or industrial customer on a demand tariff, the total aggregate retail rate (including all billed components) shall be determined by dividing the total electric charges for the most recent calendar year (including demand charges) by the total kWh provided for that year.
(C) In the event that the designated premises to which the CSG subscription is attributed has less than one year of billing history, an estimate of the total annual charges shall be made by the QRU.
(D) Net metering credits shall be reflected in QRU billing for the QRU retail customers for energy consumption no later than the 30th day after information is reported to the QRU by the CSG.
(II) The QRU may assess a Commission-approved charge to cover the QRU’s costs of delivering to the CSG Subscriber’s premises the electricity generated by the CSG, integrating the generation from the CSG into the utility’s system, and administering the CSG contracts and net metering credits. This charge shall be a fixed amount and shall not reflect costs that are already recovered by the QRU from its customers through other charges. The QRU may seek a revision of this charge no more frequently than once per year in conjunction with its acquisition plan submitted under rule 3665(d).
(III) A CSG Subscriber’s net metering credit that exceeds the electric bill in any billing period shall be carried over and applied to future bills or other net metering credit selection per rule 3664(b).
(IV) Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are part of the CSG Subscriber’s subscription and CSG Subscribers shall have the option to waive compensation for and keep the RECs resulting from the beneficial use of electricity generated from the CSG so long as such RECs are not part of a Commission-approved QRU acquisition plan. For RECs purchased by the QRU, the QRU and the CSG owner shall agree on whether subscribers will be compensated by a credit on each subscriber’s electricity bill or by a payment to the
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owner of the CSG. RECs purchased by the QRU belong to the QRU and may not be used by CSG Subscribers for marketing or other purposes.
(V) For beneficial use of electricity generated by a CSG that is not assigned to a subscriber, the QRU shall purchase from the CSG owner the unsubscribed renewable energy and RECs associated with such beneficial use at a rate equal to the QRU’s average hourly incremental cost of electricity supply over the immediately preceding calendar year.
(d) Utility Acquisition from CSGs.
(I) For compliance years 2011, 2012, and 2013, each QRU shall issue one or more standard offers to purchase the output from CSGs of five hundred kilowatts or less at prices that are comparable to the prices offered by the QRU under its existing standard offers for on- site solar generation.
(A) For compliance years 2011, 2012, and 2013, each QRU shall acquire through these standard offers one-half of the CSG generation it plans to acquire, subject to receiving responses to these standard offers.
(B) For compliance years 2011, 2012, and 2013, the RECs generated from CSGs shall not be used to meet more than twenty percent of the QRU’s retail distributed generation requirement under its RES obligation.
(C) For compliance from 2011 through 2013, a QRU shall not be obligated to purchase the output from more than 6 MW of newly installed CSG generation.
(D) For compliance years 2014 and thereafter, the Commission shall determine the minimum and maximum purchases of electrical output from newly installed CSGs of different output capacity without regard to the 6 MW ceiling for the period 2011 through 2013.
(II) For each compliance years 2013 through 2014, the QRU shall seek Commission approval of its plans to acquire energy and RECs from CSGs as part of the QRU’s Compliance Plan filed under rule 3657.
(A) For compliance year 2011, the QRU may submit an application to obtain energy and RECs from CSGs.
(B) For compliance year 2012, the QRU shall submit its an application to obtain energy and RECs from CSGs not later than 30 days following the approval of these rules pertaining to CSG.
(III) The QRU’s plan submitted to the Commission for acquiring energy and RECs from CSGs via standard offers shall include a reservation process to prioritize applications in the event that applications for a standard offer segment exceed the capacity cap on that segment. A refundable deposit not to exceed $100 per kilowatt may be assessed by the QRU to secure the CSG’s position in the queue. The deposit shall be refunded within three months after the CSG achieves commercial operation.
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(IV) Except for CSGs owned by governmental or quasi-governmental entities, the QRU shall conduct sufficient due diligence on applicants seeking to construct CSGs under its competitive solicitations and standard offer programs to reasonably assure that the CSG Subscriber Organization has sufficient resources to successfully construct and commence operations of the CSG.
(A) The QRU shall be deemed to have conducted sufficient due diligence on applicants by requiring documentation of escrowed funds to support commercial operations of the CSG of not less than $100 per kW of CSG output capacity. The escrow shall be maintained by its terms until such time as the CSG commences commercial operation as certified by QRU acceptance of energy from the CSG.
(B) In the event an applicant disputes QRU application of minimum capital requirements, such applicant may apply to the Commission for determination of whether the CSG Subscriber Organization has sufficient resources to reasonably assure successful construction and commencement of CSG operations.
(V) In their plans to acquire energy and RECs from CSGs, investor owned QRUs shall reserve, to the extent of demand for such ownership, at least five percent of their CSG acquisition budget on a kilowatt-hour basis for CSG subscriptions by Eligible Low-Income CSG Subscribers.
(A) CSG Subscriber Organizations and QRUs may rely on certification by the Colorado Department of Human Services for acceptance in the Colorado Low- Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) as evidence of eligibility as an Eligible Low-Income CSG Subscriber in a CSG.
(B) Acquisition of energy and RECs from Eligible Low-Income CSG Subscribers to CSGs may be either through dedicated low-income CSGs or low-income set asides within other CSGs.
(VI) QRU Ownership of CSGs: For investments in CSGs, the investor owned QRU shall be eligible for the incentives and be subject to the ownership limitations set forth in rule 3660. For a CSG owned by an investor owned QRU, the QRU may submit a request to the Commission, by application, to recover through rates a margin on energy and RECs purchased; however such incentive payments shall be excluded from the retail rate impact under rule 3661.
(A) The exclusion from the retail rate impact described above notwithstanding, the acquisition of RECs and energy from CSGs shall be subject to the retail rate impact under rule 3661. QRU expenditures for unsubscribed energy and RECs generated by CSGs shall be included in the calculations of retail rate impact under that rule.
(e) Financing and Operating CSGs.
(I) Contracts signed by QRUs with CSG owners shall be a matter of public record and shall be filed with the Commission by the QRU.
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(II) CSG Subscriber Organizations shall issue public annual reports as of the end of the calendar or other fiscal year containing, at a minimum, the energy produced by the CSG; audited financial statements including a balance sheet, income statement, and sources and uses of funds statement; and the management and ownership of the CSG and the CSG Subscriber Organization, if different.
(A) Individual subscribers shall receive, in addition to the annual report of the CSG Subscriber Organization, a report of the energy, multiplier (e.g. aggregate retail rate), and net metering credits attributed to the CSG Subscriber’s account.
(III) CSG Subscriber funds, collected by the CSG in advance of commercial operation of the CSG, shall be held in escrow. The escrow shall be maintained by its terms until such time as the CSG commences commercial operation as certified by QRU acceptance of energy from the CSG.