Public Utilities Commission Encourage Renewable Energy Generation
Section 1 of the act declares that customer-sited renewable energy generation facilities (distributed generation) such as rooftop solar can make important contributions toward meeting Colorado's declared goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while providing a reliable, adaptable supply of electricity for homes, businesses, and the rapidly increasing numbers of electric vehicles, and that existing limits on customer-sited renewable energy generation facilities unnecessarily restrict this potential.
Sections 3 and 5 remove most of the existing limitations on the size of distributed generation facilities, which currently cannot exceed 120% of a customer's historical annual usage, to qualify for renewable energy credits. Section 3 also expands an existing exemption from regulation as a public utility to include persons who sell excess power from distributed generation located anywhere on their property or on property owned or leased by others in a master meter operation, e.g., an apartment building or mobile home park. Section 4 grants master meter operators (MMOs) that sell power from distributed generation a limited exemption from the general requirement not to charge their end users any amount above what they are billed for electricity supplied by the serving electric utility. MMOs may retain refunds, rebates, rate reductions, net metering credits, and similar reductions offered by the serving utility in its net metering program. The public utilities commission (PUC) is directed to adopt rules encouraging landlords and tenants in multi-unit buildings to share in the costs and benefits of installing new distributed generation facilities.
Section 5 requires a qualifying retail utility to allow, and to adopt standards for the approval of, customer-owned meter collar adapters in residential installations. The PUC retains authority to resolve any disputes concerning the standards or their application in specific cases. Section 2 defines a meter collar adapter as a device installed between the electric meter and the meter socket box that allows the customer to interconnect power from on-site sources.
Section 5 also:
- Replaces the term "standard rebate offer" with "net metering service" where appropriate, to more accurately reflect current practice;
- Requires qualifying retail utilities, under their net metering service, to purchase energy produced from any renewable energy resources rather than exclusively solar energy resources;
- Doubles the size of eligible on-site renewable energy installations from 500 kilowatts to one megawatt;
- Limits the size of eligible off-site renewable energy installations to 500 kilowatts for a single-meter installation or 300 kilowatts per meter for a multi-meter installation;
- Narrows the requirements for small hydroelectric facilities that qualify as renewable energy resources to exclude those that require the construction of new dams or reservoirs;
- Adds renewable energy storage as an eligible energy resource under the renewable energy standard and defines "renewable energy storage" as a facility that stores energy that is derived only from renewable energy resources;
- Allows a customer to carry forward monthly bill credits from distributed generation indefinitely, at any service address within a qualifying retail utility's service territory, unless the customer chooses to be reimbursed annually or to donate the excess to a low-income energy assistance program; and
- Directs the PUC to adopt rules to accommodate the aggregation and interconnection of retail distributed generation, including the pooling of renewable energy resources under a master meter or similar arrangement and the allocation of credits among customers on different rate schedules.
Section 6 appropriates $91,488 to the department of regulatory agencies for use by the PUC to implement the act.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)