Solar Working Group
The Solar Working Group was formed to explore the expansion of solar energy opportunities in Boulder. The group is comprised of industry professionals, technical, policy, and financial experts and engaged residents.
The group composed a report and presented their recommendations and conclusions to City Council in August 2014. The findings of the group range from ideas that can be completed in the short term to issues the city should consider if Boulder forms a local electric utility. Staff is pursuing some of these recommendations and hopes members of the group will continue to work with the city on the transition plan to form a local electric utility as it relates to solar energy in Boulder.
Supporting and increasing renewable sources of energy is a core value for the Energy Future project. The city sees this discussion as an important next step in the community's effort to create the electric utility of the future. The city has a unique opportunity to benefit from local experts to design programs that will encourage more local energy production. Expertise from the university and federal labs, as well as the numerous companies and entrepreneurs developing leading-edge energy technologies, has already helped Boulder achieve one of the highest levels of solar per-capita in the US, with close to 14 megawatts installed in the city.
Boulder has played a significant role in supporting local energy generation, particularly solar. This has included streamlining the permitting process to offering a local solar rebate and grant program. The concept of Solar Gardens was originally conceived in Boulder, and city staff members were on the drafting team of legislation that allowed this.
The city doesn't want to simply continue this tradition; it wants to make it even stronger by working with stakeholders to identify ways to encourage even more locally generated clean energy sources. This is fundamental to achieving community goals, whether Boulder creates it own electric utility or strike a new agreement with our current provider.
The group focused on questions related to the development of solar power in Boulder, including but not limited to: current and future incentives, barriers to solar development, and the future development of innovative distributed generation (DG) pilot projects. The group considered the following:
- What is the role of distributed generation (DG) such as solar in the Utility of the Future, either through the creation of a new municipal utility or through a continued partnership with Xcel Energy?
- What barriers currently exist to achieving the future role of distributed generation?
- Regarding the current "Boulder Docket" at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC):
- Are there barriers in the current solar marketplace specifically related to the municipalization effort?
- What is a fair way to address new solar contracts that occur prior to municipalizing that provides certainty in the marketplace without compromising Boulder's ability to incent local solar in the future?
- Should the group determine an appropriate increase in solar installations, what is the place for roof-top vs. utility scale solar? What are the benefits and risks of each?
- How can a future vision of solar in Boulder be realized through a municipal utility? Through a partnership with Xcel?
- What incentivizes solar development from both the developer and the customer perspective?
- What type of analysis or evaluation is necessary to understand issues such as capacity, site suitability or incentive structures?
- To the extent funding is required, where do we get the money and how do we direct it?
The group met monthly from November 2013 through June 2014.
City of Boulder Staff
1101 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302