Ask Eartha: How does our solar garden grow? |

Ask Eartha: How does our solar garden grow?

Special to the Daily

Dear Eartha,

Are the community solar panels going in this year after all? What’s the word?

Amanda, Breckenridge

Ode to our solar gardens. We can’t wait to see these community solar assets up and running and interconnected to the grid. Soon these clean-energy producing panels will be fully operational! Clean Energy Collective reports that they are scheduled to go in in July and definitely by the end of the year. Both 500 kW arrays are still moving through Town of Breckenridge approval processes. The Stilson Property – by the Xcel sub-station and located near the stables east of Breckenridge – has been approved for a land use permit and is now in building review. The McCain Property (north of Coyne Valley Road) is in the process of land-use review. Our project developer Clean Energy Collective expects both arrays will be completed and interconnected in July.

Now about pricing. Clean Energy Collective reports it will begin contacting people who have made reservations next week, if it hasn’t already, and will provide detailed proposals for all interested subscribers. Customers will be able to secure their reservation with a 10 percent fully-refundable deposit. The balance of their purchase price will be due once the systems are interconnected and producing power.

We finally have some numbers to share. According to the Clean Energy Collective, pricing is set at $3.70 per watt, for both systems. The same price applies to both residential and commercial customers.

What’s new here? Customers will receive both an on-bill credit and a Renewable Energy Certificate Payment (REC). We had previously thought the REC credit might not pass through to the customer, but it does, speeding up the payback, though the initial cost is slightly higher.

Residential subscribers will receive an on-bill credit equal to $.07082/kWh for every hour produced by their share of the solar garden. Residential subscribers will also receive a payment of $.08/kWh for every hour produced by their share of the solar garden. The REC payment will continue for 20 years, twice as long as a typical residential system, which ends after 10 years.

Residential customers that purchase the minimum, 1kW, can expect to pay $3,700 for the system and will have first year savings of approximately $260. Those savings will increase as Xcel increases their tariffed usage rate for electric service. In the first 20 years, a 1kW subscriber can expect to save approximately $6,000.

Commercial customers can expect similar savings, or more. Commercial credit rates are established by customer under the Xcel Solar Rewards Community program, and some customers with high demand charges and low usage charges will receive significantly higher credit rates. Clean Energy Collective’s solar specialists can help businesses determine their actual credit rate under the program. Under some quotes provided we have seen credit rates as high as $.11/kWh. Commercial customers will also receive the REC payment of $.08/kWh for the full 20 year period. Recall that shares are transferable to any meter in the county.

Eartha especially likes the financing options available. After all, many people just want to pay for energy as if they were paying their utility bill. Financing allows this to happen, but it is an ownership model, which is pretty cool.

High Country Conservation Center and other partners like the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County Government and Innovative Energy have put in a lot of time and effort to get this project off the ground. We can’t wait to see the successful outcome. Want to sign up or get your pricing info? Contact Clean Energy Collective: http://www.easycleanenergy/xcelsummit


Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit

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