In support of the use of agrivoltaics, which is the integration of solar energy generation facilities with agricultural activities, section 2 of the bill 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. On or before
October September 1, 2023, the office is required to convene a stakeholder group task force to advise on whether the office should impose any operational requirements for agrivoltaic projects that apply for grants conduct a study, in consultation with the department of agriculture, the Colorado energy office, and the division of parks and wildlife, to evaluate the opportunities and challenges associated with agrivoltaics in the state. On or before February 15, 2024, the task force is required to present the results of the study to the joint committee of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over agricultural matters.Section 4 authorizes the Colorado water conservation board (board) , in consultation with the state engineer, the Colorado energy office, and the Colorado water institute, to finance a project to study the feasibility of using aquavoltaics, which are solar energy generation facilities placed over, or floating on, irrigation canals or reservoirs.Section 1 requires the director of the division of parks and wildlife to consult on the impacts on wildlife of:
- Any research projects for which the office awards money to study the use of agrivoltaics; and
- The project that the board finances to study the feasibility of using aquavoltaics in the state.
5 6 amends the statutory definition of "solar energy facility", used in determining the valuation of public utilities for property tax purposes, to include agrivoltaics and aquavoltaics.Section 3 requires the commissioner of agriculture or the commissioner's designee (commissioner), in consultation 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, to examine 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.Section 3 requires the commissioner to submit a progress report on the study to the general assembly on or before October 1, 2024, and a final report, including any recommendations, on or before October 1, 2025.Section 3 also authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules to implement the recommendations, but requires that any greenhouse gas offset program or other greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration program or mechanism established in rule not mandate participation by agricultural producers.Section 5 exempts machinery or equipment from property tax if the machinery or equipment is part of a solar energy generating system that is used for agrivoltaics and meets certain specifications. Section 7 exempts from the special fuel tax the portion of a biodiesel or renewable diesel fuel blend the amount of the fuel that is biodiesel or renewable diesel, so long as the biodiesel or renewable diesel represents at least 5% of the blend. Based on reporting from the department of revenue regarding the amount of special fuel tax revenue lost due to this tax exemption, section 8 requires the state treasurer to transfer that amount of money from the general fund to the highway users tax fund on an annual basis through 2029, starting on October 1, 2024.Section 10 appropriates $4,516,267 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 to implement the bill. For the 2023-24 state fiscal year, $30,322 is appropriated from the general fund to the department of revenue for implementation of the special fuel tax exemption for biodiesel and renewable diesel blends.
(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)