• System Specs | 10.3 MW
  • System Production | When completed, the 10.3 MW group of projects is expted to produce 18,644,960 kWh of energy. Thas is the equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from 2,971 passenger vehilcles driven for one year and CO2 emissions from 15,181,506 pounds of coal burned.
  • Environmental Benefits | It’s not just individual homeowners that can benefit from community solar. Often, businesses and towns participate, too, bringing down electricity costs and doing their part to improve the environment as well.

Colorado Powers Up 10.3 MW In Community Solar Projects

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), 50% to 75% of U.S. residents don’t have the ability to access the Solar Revolution. Perhaps their roofs aren’t properly situated, or they are renters who don’t have access to put solar on their roof. Whatever the reason, the solution to these inaccessible situations is often community solar. And it’s not just individual homeowners that can benefit from community solar. Often, businesses and towns participate, too, bringing down electricity costs and doing their part to improve the environment as well.

SEIA defines community solar as a situation where a central solar array is built, either by a utility, municipality or some other third-party owner on either public or privately-owned property. Then residential and commercial customers subscribe to the solar array, pledging to purchase their electricity from the array for a contract-specified period of years.

Currently, 42 states have at least one community solar project in the ground, with 1.2 gigawatts (GW) installed, and SEIA suggests more than 3 GW—enough to power more than half a million homes—will be on board over the next several years.

Colorado politicians have long supported renewable energy development in general, and community solar in particular. Thanks to a utility that supports its development, Colorado has pioneered the right business model and legislation necessary to make community solar projects viable investments.

One of the state’s leading developers had long sought an opportunity to build community solar arrays. So when the opportunity arose to build multiple sites along the I-70 corridor, the company jumped at the chance.

But they needed a partner that could finance multiple sites, with all the complexity and challenges that would incur. Fortunately, a national solar company with just the right experience existed.

Financing Partners To The Rescue

Standard Solar, a leading developer and financier of solar projects throughout the United States, possessed all of the criteria the developer needed to have met. It has in excess of $500 million in low-cost capital in house, thanks to its parent company Énergir, providing the combination of expertise and money necessary to start the projects and complete them successfully. With the ability to finance, own and maintain the arrays through long-term power-purchase agreements (PPA), the two firms couldn’t have been more perfectly matched.

“When we were approached with this portfolio of community solar projects, we were thrilled to be a part of advancing Colorado’s leadership in community solar,” said Shaun Laughlin, Head of US Strategic Development, Partnerships, Project Finance and Acquisition for Standard Solar. “Community solar is one of the great opportunities to bring solar to people who might not otherwise be able to put solar on their own roofs. It’s an exciting, yet underserved, segment of the industry. We’re aiming to change that reality through funding great projects like these.”

Stellar Results

Thanks to a successful partnership, multiple community solar arrays along the I-70 corridor are in the process of being completed. At least eight of the arrays are already done, and one won the Project of the Year award from the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.

The winning installation serves the Garfield Housing Authority (GHA), a low-income housing provider located in Parachute, Colorado, with a 100 kW fixed-tilt array. The solar garden directly benefits the senior tenants and GHA’s administration building. Their subscription to the solar garden, administered through SunCentral, reduces their annual energy costs for the next 20 years.

When completed, the 10.3 MW group of projects is expected to produce 18,644,960 kWh of energy. That is equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from 2,971 passenger vehicles driven for one year and CO2 emissions from 15,181,506 pounds of coal burned.

Colorado has long been a pioneer in the community-solar market. With utility Xcel Energy that supports renewable energy and a favorable legislative atmosphere, it has always been forward-thinking when it came to developing community solar projects in the state. So when a leading developer found multiple sites along the I-70 corridor that would serve low-income communities with community solar farms, it seemed like a no-brainer. The trick, however, was finding a partner that could do the financing in-house and handle the complexities of a multiple-sited project.

Standard Solar, a leading developer and financier of solar projects throughout the United States, proved to be the answer to the money question for the developer. With in excess of $500 million in low-cost capital in house (thanks to its parent company Énergir), it provided the perfect combination of expertise and money that would be necessary to get the projects off the ground and completed successfully. With the ability to finance, own and maintain the arrays through long-term power-purchase agreements (PPAs), the marriage of the two firms’ resources was a match made in heaven.

Up and down the I-70 corridor, more than 12 towns, school districts and low-income housing developments will have access to solar power through the community solar gardens with the help of Standard Solar’s financing. So successful was the portfolio of projects that one of arrays serving the low-income housing developments won the Colorado Solar and Storage Association awarded it its Project of the Year designation. 

The 10.3 MW portfolio of projects is expected to produce 18,644,960 kWh of energy. That is equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from 2,971 passenger vehicles driven for one year and CO2 emissions from 15,181,506 pounds of coal burned.

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