Community Solar Gardens and Community Geothermal Gardens

February 23, 2023


[Link to Black Hills Energy's webpage]

H.B. 1342 of 2010 authorized the development of community solar gardens (CSGs) in the service territory of investor-owned utilities in Colorado. H.B. 1003, enacted in 2019 increased the maximum size of a CSG from 2 megawatts to 5 megawatts, and allowed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to increase the maximum size to 10 megawatts beginning July 1, 2023. The legislation also removed the requirement that a CSG subscriber's identified physical location be in the same or adjacent county as the CSG, though both locations must be within the service territory of the same investor-owned utility. 

A facility must have at least 10 subscribers. Subscriptions must be at least 1 kW and cannot exceed 120% of the subscriber's average annual electricity consumption. Subscribers are credited at the total aggregate retail rate, and any unused credits are rolled over indefinitely. Income-qualified subscribers can receive assistance with their application through Energy Outreach Colorado.

Community Geothermal Gardens

In 2022, S.B. 118 created the Community Geothermal Gardens program. A community geothermal garden is defined as a geothermal facility under 5 MW that produces electricity from the earth's heat. The rules for the geothermal program are the same as for solar program.

Municipal Utilities and Electric Cooperatives

Municipal utilities and cooperatives are not required to offer community gardens, but can voluntarily offer them if they choose. If a cooperative wants to use a community garden to meet its renewable energy standard requirements for retail distributed generation, it must follow certain rules: it must be 2 MW or less, located within its service territory, and must generate electricity for the beneficial use of subscribers who are cooperative customers. A facility must have at least four subscribers if 50 kW or less, and at least 10 subscribers if over 50 kW. Subscriptions cannot exceed 120% of the subscriber's average annual electricity consumption. Cooperatives' gardens do not have to use solar or geothermal specifically; any renewable energy resource is eligible. Cooperatives have the right to determine the credit rate, REC ownership, low-income provisions, and other rules.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: Colorado
Incentive Type: Community Solar Rules
Web Site:
Administrator: Xcel Energy, Black Hills Energy
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Geothermal Electric
  • Solar Photovoltaics
Applicable Utilities: Investor-Owned Utilities Electric Cooperatives (optional)
System Capacity Limit: 5 MW for investor-owned utilities 2 MW for electric cooperatives
Program Capacity Limit: Varies by utility
Participant Credit Rate: Total aggregate retail rate
Low-Moderate Income Provisions: Solar: 10 percent carve-out; excess bill credit donation provision; low-income housing providers treated as low-income subscribers; low-income subscribers given preference on waiting list. Geothermal: utilities can give preference to gardens with low-income subscribers


Name: C.R.S. 40-2-127
Date Enacted: 06/05/2010
Name: 4 CCR 723-3-3665
Expiration Date: 11/01/2020
Name: C.R.S. 40-2-124 (Cooperatives)
Name: C.R.S. 40-2-127.5 (Community Geothermal Gardens)


Name: Colorado Energy Office
Organization: Colorado Energy Office
Address: 1600 Broadway, Suite 1960
Denver CO 80202
Phone: (303) 866-2100

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.