Longmont Times-Call

John Fryar

Three eastern Boulder County state lawmakers looked on Tuesday morning as Gov. Jared Polis signed an agriculture bill they’d sponsored in the Legislature’s recently concluded session.

The measure, Senate Bill 21-235, “supports Colorado’s renewable energy and energy efficiency (ACRE 3 ) program. It allocates funds for research, guidance, technical assistance, feasibility studies, and education about agrivoltaics in Colorado,” Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis one of the sponsors, said in an email before the signing ceremony at Jack’s Solar Garden at 8102 North 95th St., near Longmont.

Democrat Jaquez Lewis, who represents the 17th Senate District, lives in unincorporated Boulder County south of  Longmont. Two of the bill’s other primary sponsors, House District 11 Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, and House District 12 Rep. Tracey Bernett, a Democrat who lives south of Longmont, were there for the signing ceremony. A fourth primary sponsor, Adams County Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, did not attend.

Also standing at the bill signing table were Byron Kominek, Jack’s Solar Garden owner and manager; Meg Caley, the founding farmer and executive director of Sprout City Farms, and Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg.

According to a Tuesday afternoon release from the House Democrats’ staff, SB21-235 allocates $5 million to the Department of Agriculture, with at least $3 million going to “ACRE3” an energy efficiency program, and at least $2 million going to conservation districts to implement voluntary soil health programs. ACRE3 is a state-level program for agricultural energy management and provides financial aid, technical assistance, and education to help the agriculture industry cut energy costs and develop their own energy resources.

A bill summary from the Legislature’s nonpartisan staff says that at least $150,000 of the money the measure provides must be allocated to research, guidance, technical assistance, feasibility studies, and projects related to agrivoltaics, defined as solar energy generation facilities located on land that is also used for agricultural production.