In support of the use of agrivoltaics, which is the integration of solar energy generation facilities with agricultural activities, the act authorizes the agricultural drought and climate resilience office (office) to award grants for new or ongoing demonstration or research projects that demonstrate or study the use of agrivoltaics.
The Colorado water conservation board (board), in consultation with the state engineer, the Colorado energy office, and the Colorado water institute, is required to study the feasibility of using floatovoltaics, which are solar energy generation facilities placed over, near, or floating on irrigation canals or reservoirs. On or before January 1, 2025, the board shall submit a written report of its findings and conclusions from the study to the legislative committees of reference with jurisdiction over agricultural matters.
The director of the division of parks and wildlife is required to consult on the impacts on wildlife of:
- Any research projects for which the office awards money to study the use of agrivoltaics; and
- A project that the board finances to study the feasibility of using floatovoltaics in the state.
The act exempts certain agrivoltaic equipment from property taxation if the equipment is used in the required manner and amends the statutory definition of "solar energy facility", used in determining the valuation of public utilities for property tax purposes, to include agrivoltaics and floatovoltaics.
The act requires the commissioner of agriculture (commissioner) to study greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration opportunities in the agricultural sector, including soil health management practices, the use of dry digesters, and the potential for creating and offering a certified greenhouse gas offset program and credit instruments in the agricultural sector. To perform the study, the commission must consult with the Colorado energy office, the air quality control commission, the natural and working lands task force, the Colorado state forest service, and an institution of higher education with expertise in climate change mitigation, adaptation benefits, and other environmental benefits related to agricultural research. On or before October 1, 2024, the commissioner shall submit to the general assembly a progress report on the study and, on or before October 1, 2025, a final report, which must include any legislative and regulatory recommendations.
The commissioner, in consultation with the Colorado energy office and the air quality control commission, may adopt rules to implement recommendations from the study that do not require legislative changes. Any greenhouse gas offset program or other greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration program or mechanism that the commissioner establishes in rule must not mandate participation by agricultural producers.
The act appropriates $611,870 for the 2023-24 state fiscal year from the general fund to the department of agriculture for use by the commissioner's office and administrative services, with $500,000 of the money appropriated for agrivoltaic project grants.
APPROVED by Governor May 18, 2023
EFFECTIVE August 7, 2023
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause and takes effect 90 days after sine die.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)