Eartha Steward: Doubling solar in Summit County |

Eartha Steward: Doubling solar in Summit County

Eartha Steward
special to the daily

Dear Eartha,

What comes next for our solar gardens?

– Arden, Breckenridge

As you may have read, Xcel Energy has awarded two solar gardens in Summit County, on town of Breckenridge land. The solar gardens will be constructed in 2013 and we expect both 500 kW solar gardens to fully sell out prior to construction.

These two solar gardens producing a total of 1 megawatt of power will roughly double our solar power production in Summit County. This means that Summit County is closer to energy independence, and producing less pollution and carbon through the energy it uses. Most importantly, individual households and businesses are saving money in the long run. We expect hundreds of local homes and businesses to ultimately take part in these two clean energy opportunities. Remember, the beauty of a solar garden is that it is located at an optimal site, remote from your property, but still located in the county. If you have a great south-facing roof, then roof-top solar is still an excellent option, but for those of us who do not have great roof tops (roughly three-fourths of all homes), or want to take advantage of the other features of a solar garden like transferability, subscribing to the solar garden is a great way to take part in clean energy.

It’s been a long road! We started this process with a few community forums over a year ago when we were not sure if Xcel would ever release the solar garden program, or if released, if we would be selected. Summit County, town of Breckenridge, and High Country Conservation Center led by the Clean Energy Collective were both well prepared and lucky during the application process. For example, neighboring Lake and Park counties had both hoped to receive solar gardens, but were not selected by Xcel, despite an excellent application and time stamp in Lake County’s case in particular. There was a certain amount of luck in the application process and Summit County got lucky, yay! We also have to thank you, our subscribers, for showing Xcel that Summit County wanted this project. You showed interest very effectively, with over 60 individual subscribers and 500 kW of subscription prior to the Xcel release.

If you have already expressed interest over the past year in the solar garden, you should also have received an email from Clean Energy Collective letting you know what next steps are. If you have questions on this process, call Clean Energy Collective at (720) 341-6050. If you have not yet signed up, go to the Clean Energy Collective online pre-registration form, which will start the process: http://www.xcelsolar Pricing will be released in October, and at that time, Clean Energy Collective will contact registered customers and give the first opportunity to purchase. If you have questions about anything else eco and chic, you can call us at (970) 668-5703.

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 questions to Eartha at

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