San Miguel Power Association, Inc. (SMPA) and the Clean Energy Collective (CEC) have begun construction on their one-megawatt community-owned solar project in Paradox Valley.
The system is sited on seven acres in the northeast corner of Paradox Valley along U.S. Highway 90, approximately 15 miles west of Naturita, Colo. When completed, it will provide enough electricity to power roughly 220 homes within SMPA’s service territory.
SMPA and CEC will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on site July 31, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend the small ceremony. Representatives from SMPA and CEC will be on hand to answer questions.
“We’re kicking off the construction of our community solar array with a small groundbreaking ceremony. Our members are welcome to attend. It will be a good opportunity to see the location and ask questions,” said SMPA General Manager Kevin Ritter. “We’re also planning a larger and more extensive grand opening event when the array is complete. We encourage our members to plan on attending that event as well, because it will most likely include more information and even facility tours.”
SMPA members are eligible to buy into the SMPA Community Solar array by purchasing solar panels. SMPA will directly credit the member’s monthly electric bill for the power their panel produces in the community array. Each solar panel is 235 watts, costs $705 and will generate around $45 worth of electricity per year. CEC anticipates it will take approximately three months to construct SMPA’s Community Solar array, but members can reserve panels in advance. The CEC is currently taking reservations and working with members to determine what will fit their budgets and energy use. CEC also offers flexible, low-cost, long-term financing for qualified
members through its partner Sooper Credit Union and its
Clean Energy Loan program.
Community-owned solar projects offer many advantages over traditional private installations. Currently, members who are interested in solar generation must install panels on their individual homes or businesses. This limits the participation of renters and members with poor solar locations. In contrast, community projects are located on ideal sites with excellent sun exposure. CEC will own, operate and maintain SMPA’s Community Solar array, meaning that members who purchase a panel in the array will incur no additional operation or maintenance costs. And it’s more affordable than a traditional private solar installation.
San Miguel Power Association, Inc. is a member-owned, locally-controlled rural electric cooperative with offices in Nucla and Ridgway, Colo. It is the mission of San Miguel Power Association to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service. SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 14,000 meters and supports local communities with $200,000 annually in property taxes and $400,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy rebates.