Breckenridge and Summit County, Col., are laying plans for two new community solar gardens with Clean Energy Collective—ahead of Xcel Energy’s finalization of incentives for such installations. The company already sparked enough interest in such projects to sell out the first and much of the second.
Through the community solar gardens utility customers in an area can buy part of a larger photovoltaic array. They allow customers who can’t put solar on their homes either because of financial issues or shading issues, or customers who rent, to still buy solar and offset at least part of their electric bill with their modules in the array. Prices for a kilowatt of modules in the Breckenridge project are expected to start at between $3,000 and $3,500, according to Summit Daily News.
The first proposed project is smaller, at 500 kilowatts, according to Tim Braun of Clean Energy Collective. The second is larger at almost 2 megawatts. “The smaller we could sell out right now,” he said. “The larger would sell pretty quick, too.”
The interest for community solar gardens in towns like Breckenridge is very high, according to Braun. “That’s what we’re finding in these resort-driven towns. There’s plenty of audience to sell out for the second [project] as well,” he said.
The Clean Energy Collective already has a number of completed community solar gardens, including one in Rifle, Colorado. It’s also building more projects, one in Fort Collins, with other projects about to start in Colorado Springs and Telluride—all of which are in Colorado—and another ready to go in Taos, N.M. The company has worked with local utilities, including Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Colorado Springs Utilities, and other regional utilities, according to Braun.
But the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy is just preparing to finalize its incentive program for community solar gardens, Breckenridge is in Xcel’s coverage area, and competition for the spots is expected to be in tense. “We think we’re in a good position to get those [projects approved],” Braun said.
Clean Energy Collective can offer some things some other community solar garden developers don’t have access too. For instance, it has a deal for financing through Residential Mortgage of Colorado that allows homeowners to add in the costs of PV modules in a solar garden to home refinancing.