CSU will pay a performance-based incentive of 16 cents per kilowatt hour generated by up to 3 megawatts of solar panels installed in gardens during the first year of the expanded program.
The pilot program allowed for 2 megawatts and launched new business SunShare, led by 20-something David Amster-Olzewski. Two other companies specializing in community solar gardens, which allow people and businesses to buy or lease solar panels in a farm and get credit for the energy they produce on their bills, are set to move into the Colorado Springs market.
Issues with the up-front rebate prompted Utilities to propose the performance-based incentive that will spread payments to the developer during 20 years and will cut credits to the consumer from 10 cents to less than 8 cents per kilowatt hour.
Six council members voted in favor of expanding the program despite protests from business owners who said they feared their commercial electric rates would increase enough to be a hardship.
John Romero, general manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, said the expanded program is expected to cost $22 to $33.2 million during 20 years, which translates to rate increases of 3 to 9 percent. On the high end, that could mean residential rates at the end of the 20 years would increase by up to $4.63 a year and up to $16,895 for commercial customers.
Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan and Lisa Czelatdko voted against the program expansion.