The energy will be generated by nearly 3,000 solar panels in SunShare’s newest solar garden awarded by resident-owned Colorado Springs Utilities. The 2 MW community solar garden, the largest in the United States, will be under construction later this summer.
The city describes the decision as not only an environmental decision, but also an economic one that isolates its energy costs from volatile fossil fuel prices. Meanwhile, the city will double its 2020 carbon reduction goals five years ahead of schedule, with a greater than 60 percent reduction in total carbon emissions produced by its use of electricity, natural gas, gasoline and solid waste.
In 2010, the Colorado State legislature passed the country’s first Community Solar Gardens Act. Subsequently, 16 states from Minnesota to Massachusetts have developed legislation creating their own community solar gardens programs, according to SunShare.
SunShare has over 13 MW of community solar gardens under development in Colorado’s Front Range. They have projects underway with Colorado Springs Utilities, Xcel Energy and Fort Collins Utilities with the capacity to serve over 3,000 homes.
In March, the Kansas electric cooperative Midwest Energy and solar garden developer Clean Energy Collective signed an agreement to build a 1 MW community solar photovoltaic array. The 4,000 panels will be available for sale to Midwest Energy members throughout central and western Kansas. Midwest Energy is the first utility in Kansas to offer community-owned solar to its members.
CEC broke ground on on a Boulder, Colo., community-owned solar garden, in February.