SunShare’s 2.5 Megawatt (MWac) Pikes Peak Solar Garden Site has been turned on and is producing solar energy into Colorado Springs Utilities’ grid. The project is one of five solar garden sites that SunShare has developed throughout Colorado’s largest counties this year, in addition to two community solar gardens in operation in Colorado Springs since 2012. SunShare was founded in Colorado Springs in 2011.
A concept pioneered by the state of Colorado in 2010, community solar allows customers who either can’t or don’t want to put solar panels on their homes or properties to buy solar energy from a solar array located elsewhere in the community.
Customers of the Pikes Peak site include leaders in Colorado such as the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Library District, Security Water District and the City of Manitou Springs. SunShare’s customers now number over 400 residential, governmental, and commercial clients in Colorado Springs alone. The solar garden sold out before construction began.
“We are proud to be the first City in the nation to receive all of its electrical power for its municipal buildings from a solar garden,” said Coreen Toll, Mayor Pro Tem of Manitou Springs. “Our solar subscription means Manitou Springs will realize its 2020 government Greenhouse Gas Reduction goals by 2015.” Manitou Springs is the first city in the nation to have 100% of its municipal buildings powered by community solar.
The five solar garden sites that SunShare is developing along the Front Range represent one of the largest Community Solar portfolios in the nation. At full capacity, the combined 8.2 megawatt (MWac) Community Solar portfolio being developed by SunShare this year along the Front Range is expected to generate approximately 350 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over 20 years, which is enough to power 1,600 typical U.S. homes and avoid more than 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide and is equivalent to removing more than 50,000 vehicles from the road.
“Our City Council proactively created the community solar garden program in 2011 to make affordable solar power available to our customers. And the program has been met with tremendous public support,” said Jerry Forte, Colorado Springs Utilities CEO. “Projects like this bring us closer to achieving our goal of cost-effectively supplying 20 percent of our community’s power demand from renewable sources by 2020.”
“Colorado Springs was the first community in the nation to create a competitive community solar market four years ago, and now there are 24 states around the nation with community solar programs,” said David Amster-Olszewski, CEO and founder of SunShare. “We are thrilled to see the community solar program expanding in the city we were founded in.”
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.