Community Solar Gardens Help Renters Go Green, but Solar Companies are Concerned

If you live rent an apartment, own a condominium, live in a shady neighborhood, or simply don’t want solar panels on your roof, residents of  Colorado have a solution:  community solar gardens.  What’s a community solar garden?  It’s a unique idea to allow residents to purchase a share of a large solar array that would give them credit on their utility bill and qualify for rebates.

Photo by Thomas Roche
Community solar gardens help renters go green
Community solar gardens help renters go green

The “solar gardens” bill was the idea of Colorado State Representative Claire Levy (D-Boulder).  Ecopolitology explains:

The idea for the bill came from stricter green building standards in Boulder that requires many new buildings to generate some portion of their own renewable energy. “The idea is that if somebody cannot meet the renewable energy requirements on site, and if there are solar gardens available within Boulder County, that they would be able to put their renewables at the solar gardens as a way of meeting the requirement,” Commissioner Will Toor said.

Community solar gardens sound like a great idea to make renewable energy more accessible; however, solar companies are concerned.  The Daily Camera clarifies:

Eriks Brolis, co-owner of Namaste Solar in Boulder, said local solar companies aren’t opposed to the idea of solar gardens, but they worry that some of the intricacies of the bill’s language might create competition for funds between solar gardens and rooftop solar.

“We’re continuing to work with Representative Levy to ensure that the opportunity for folks to install solar on their own homes isn’t reduced by these new opportunities,” he said. “We want to make sure the new market doesn’t replace the existing ones for customers.”

At issue is the way solar gardens would be categorized — as “retail” instead of “wholesale” power.

Retail designation allows customers to receive utility credits not available if the gardens were classified as wholesale, but it also puts garden consumers in competition with rooftop installations homeowners for limited rebate funds.

The largest community solar gardens allowed under Levy’s bill would be “up to 2 megawatts in size, the equivalent of about 400 average rooftop installations”.  Small, local residential solar installation companies fear such projects would be awarded to large corporations; however, Levy’s bill attempts to protect local PV companies by requiring that “half of the 6 megawatts allowed for community solar gardens must come from gardens that are 500 kilowatts or smaller.”


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7 comments

  • Good news,Jenny !!!!!! BT Cotton destroyed by new mutant bollworms in India !!!!!!!!!!
    U got a email id,I wanted 2 send this news a week back !!!!!!!!!!

  • My plans for Phoenix,Az destroyed by pro-corporate politicians. In 1978 the valley of the never-ending baking sun was going to build a HUGE public transit train system. My dream was for it to be air-conditioned under ground 2 floors by solar power. When i returned after being away for 11 yrs working in SF,Ca. I investigated why it never came about. The auto, oil were top lobbyists to PAY/PAID Arizona’s republican politicicans to NOT! So it is now a nightmare of auto, pollution, dust spores, floating particles and solar? ha! Arizona should of been a leader/role model in solar/sun energies! As a Native BORN here and family settled here in 1800s I am ASHAMED! of what they’ve done to ARIZONA in EVERY way! No jobs… so oil corps get to still raise gas prices? In the summer the utility corps make BANK and POLLUTE so people can bare the heat and they shut it off if one cannot pay the $700.00 a month electric bill, which seems evil to me, especially with all of the senior 55+ communities. But these geezers KEEP voting for their pro-corporate, UN=American, traitor politicians. My solution is to FIRE every single tax paid employee and deny them Unemployment INSURANCE benefits and raise their healthcare premiums. Then hire REAL Americans to SERVE the PEOPLE of AMERICA before GOOGLE,AIG, BANKSTERS,FANNIE/FREDDIE etc.

  • this debate about climate changing and global warming is getting us nowhere. what matters is 1) energy independence 2) creating jobs in america and 3) growing energy demand. There are 6 billion people in the world today, and there will be 9 billion in 25 years. This growing population will need power, and solar energy can help with this. we’ll make more of our own power and create jobs right here in America. Check out http://freecleansolar.com to learn more.

  • Daylight hours are shorter in winter. Solar panels therefore produce proportionately less power.If the modules become covered with snow, they stop producing power, but snow generally melts quickly when the sun strikes the modules; if you brush the snow off, they resume operation immediately. For more info you can try www. FreeCleansolar.com

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