Arapahoe County on Oct. 25 adopted new regulations for small solar systems — also known as community solar gardens — within the County’s Land Development Code. The new rules 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 from 2 MW to 5 MW. These solar gardens are set up by energy companies with subscribers from nearby communities who 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 gardens add clean energy to the grid.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to expand consumer access to renewable energy sources through the County’s newly amended land development code,” said Commissioner Jeff Baker. “Community solar gardens enable residents — depending on income status — to either receive a credit on their bill or receive a subsidy, all without the cost of installing equipment on their homes.”
The new regulations also provide more protections for wildlife and add additional safety and setback requirements.
The approval process for new solar gardens 5 MW and less will now be reviewed through an administrative process and do not require public hearings before the Planning Commission or Board of County Commissioners.
Larger solar projects, on the other hand, will be approved through a Use by Special Review application, which require public hearings before the Planning Commission and BOCC.
The new regulations take effect immediately.