Xcel Energy Connects to Community Solar Garden

by | Feb 25, 2013

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Community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) broke ground on a Boulder, Colo., community-owned solar garden, which is the first project of its kind in Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program.

A community solar garden permits residential and business customers to buy solar modules to handle their electric load without having to install the modules on their own property. CEC’s solar model is designed for commercial and residential customers for whom on-site renewable energy systems are not an option. They may lease their space, live in multi-unit dwellings, have homes or businesses that aren’t suitable for solar installations, or lack the financial capacity to install a system on-site.

The 2010 Colorado Community Solar Gardens Act (HB 10-1342) authorized community solar projects, and the new solar array in Boulder – the Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array – is the state’s first solar garden through an Investor Owned Utility.

The 500 kW Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array will deliver locally-produced power to any participating commercial and residential ratepayer throughout Xcel Energy’s Boulder County territory.

Located on 3.5 acres, the south-facing site can handle a capacity of 2,016 solar panels and is expected to come online in April.

All residential, commercial, public and non-profit Xcel Energy customers in Boulder County can purchase solar panels in the community array, from the minimum 1 kW up to fully offsetting their electricity usage. All CEC customers will pay $3.70/watt for their system, which includes all discounts and credits, as well as ongoing operation and maintenance. The average residential customer’s 5 kW system costs $18,500, and upon activation immediately generates credits on their monthly Xcel Energy electricity bill for the power produced. Customers also receive quarterly Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) payments based on their panels’ production. Low cost financing is available for all residential and commercial customers. Commercial customers can benefit from an accelerated depreciation tax schedule.

CEC partnered with REC Solar and Flatirons, Inc. for the system design and engineering, and land surveying.

In 2010, CEC established the first community-owned solar garden in the country near El Jebel, Colo. Since that time, CEC has installed 2.7 MW of community solar in Colorado. Until now, those projects have been partnerships with rural cooperative utilities. CEC is building eight community-owned solar gardens under the Xcel Solar Rewards program, totaling 3.5 MW of distributed power generation to serve Colorado’s customers in Boulder, Jefferson, Denver, Arapahoe and Summit Counties and the City of Aurora.

CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter system automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems.

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