The solar industry applauded a decision by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that allows Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL) to acquire as much as 33.6 megawatts as part of the company's Solar Rewards program.

The decision mailed Tuesday by the Public Utilities Commission more than triples the amount of solar capacity the utility can offer on systems sized 10 kilowatts and less. Xcel previously was approved for just 9.6 megawatts this year and next year, but interest in the program exceeded capacity, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said.

In April, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and Xcel Energy jointly proposed to increase capacity to avoid disrupting the successful program.

"This decision by the PUC will help Coloradans who want to go solar, and it will help solar companies to expand their businesses," said Edward Stern, executive director of COSEIA, in a statement. "This will sustain Colorado jobs and continue the growth of a secure and sustainable source of domestic energy."

Xcel's Solar Rewards program helps the utility meet a state mandate to generate 30 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Xcel Energy customers fund the program through a 2 percent rider on their monthly bills.