Arapahoe County is proposing to amend regulations for small solar systems—also known as community solar gardens—within the County’s Land Development Code.
The proposed administrative solar rules will bring the County into alignment with state regulations and apply to solar gardens that are up to 5 megawatts (MW) in capacity.
In 2019, the state increased the capacity of small solar gardens to 5 MW from 2 MW. These solar gardens are set up by companies that have subscribers from nearby communities invest in solar panels either through a large upfront purchase or a monthly leasing plan. In return, this investment provides a solar credit on their monthly energy statement. The solar gardens add clean energy to the grid.
The County’s proposed regulations also provide more protections for wildlife, additional setback rules and more safety requirements than the current rules.
The approval process for new solar gardens 5 MW and less will be reviewed through an administrative process and do not require public hearings before the Planning Commission or Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). Larger solar projects would be approved through a Use by Special Review application, which do require public hearings before the Planning Commission and BOCC.
The Planning division is gathering comments on the proposed draft rules until Aug. 12. After input, the proposed solar regulations will go through public hearings before the Planning Commission and the BOCC later this year. Dates and times for these hearings have yet to be determined.
Comments can be emailed to County Case Manager Diane Kocis.