New player in solar gardens


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Clean Energy Collectives array near Rifle.
  • Clean Energy Collective's array near Rifle.

A solar gardens applicant has dropped out of the program approved last month by the City Council that enables Springs Utiltiies customers to invest in solar power and reap the benefit of a lower electric bill without having panels placed on their home.

Solar Synergy LLC of Colorado Springs has told Utilities it won't participate as originally planned, a Utilities official said. The withdrawal of the firm means another applicant gets a shot at building a 500-kilowatt solar array, and that applicant is Clean Energy Collective of Carbondale.

The company offers an ownership model, which differs from the plan of SunShare, started by a former Colorado College student, which is based on leasing the panels.

Here's what Clean Energy Collective said about its plan in a press release:

CARBONDALE, Colo. (November 11, 2011) Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has chosen community solar garden developer the Clean Energy Collective to build and operate a 500 kW community-owned solar facility within the municipally-owned utility’s service territory. This is a boon to Colorado’s clean energy economy and to the growth of CSU’s renewable energy portfolio. It also is significant for Colorado Springs residents because the CEC’s admired model allows members to own their panels in locally-sited solar arrays.

A Colorado company, the CEC was the first in the nation to build and operate a community-owned renewable energy facility. Through the CEC, any CSU residential or educational customer—such as property renters, poorly sighted properties and individuals of all incomes—will now have the opportunity for ownership in a locally produced clean energy system without having to build a costly system on their home or business, and through the utility directly reap the benefits on their monthly electric bills.

The CEC will be the only solar garden provider in CSU territory offering customers the ability to own, not lease, panels The CEC expects panels to sell for $530 each. The ownership model claims several advantages over leasing, including a significantly higher payback, additional flexibility with moving or selling, no financing costs, and lifetime ownership (where a solar lease ends without the customer owning
anything). Independent reports have found that ownership is more than five times more beneficial than leasing.

This will be the CEC’s fifth solar facility in Colorado, along with an 858 kW facility operating in Rifle (currently the largest community-owned solar garden in the nation), a 1 MW site approved in El Jebel, a recently approved 1 MW facility to be located near Telluride, and an 80 kW pilot facility (the first community-owned solar garden in the nation) operating in El Jebel. The location of the Colorado Springs array will be announced upon finalization of the land lease agreements. Given the wave of enthusiasm for community—based power production, the CEC expects the array to sell out quickly.

“We are very excited to be chosen to introduce community solar to Colorado Springs and look forward to
offering all CSU customers the opportunity to benefit from local community solar ownership,” said Paul
Spencer, the Clean Energy Collective’s president and founder.

About the Clean Energy Collective
The Clean Energy Collective is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a leader in
community power generation. The Colorado-based company has pioneered the model of delivering clean
power-generation through large-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers.
The CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter® system automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with
existing utility billing systems, enabling all utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited on their monthly utility bills, without modifying their home or office.



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