For many people, installing solar PV on their rooftop is simply not feasible. For that matter, people who rent houses and apartments don't own the roof they live under and putting up solar panels simply isn't going to happen/could get you evicted. But Colorado will now join a small but growing number of U.S. states where community solar garden laws allow groups of individuals to collectively own a solar array and cash-in on potential benefits from the state's net-metering laws and tariffs.
Signed into law on Saturday in Boulder by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, House Bill 1342 (pdf), The Community Solar Gardens Act allows groups of at least 10 "subscribers" to collectively own a share of a solar installation in the county where they reside and receive credits or refunds on their electricity bill. The amount they will be paid depends upon on how many shares of the solar garden they own, the performance of the solar array and their own monthly electricity usage.
“Even if you have shade on your roof or rent your house, you can subscribe to the sun, and if you move, your subscription moves with you," said Joy Hughes of the Solar Gardens Institute, an advocate of the solar gardens model.
Washington, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts already have laws on the books to support community solar energy and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is sponsoring a community solar bill in the Senate.
Gov. Ritter, who decided not to run for a second term as governor in November, has made the "New Energy Economy" a centerpiece of his campaign and his 4 years in office, signing a total of 56 clean energy and energy efficiency bills into law.
Ritter will continue on the last of his trademark bill-signing tours throughout Colorado this week.
Photo: Robyn Lydick, Solargardens.org