Community solar planned near Silt |

Community solar planned near Silt

Members of the public toured Clean Energy Collective's solar panel array at the Garfield County Airport during a ribbon cutting. A new solar array, CEC's first in partnership with Xcel Energy, is proposed about 1 mile east of Silt on River Frontage Road.
Post Independent file |

The Clean Energy Collective is adding to its solar infrastructure in Garfield County with a new community solar array proposed just east of Silt.

This project, which Garfield County commissioners unanimously approved with a major impact review Monday, will be CEC’s fifth solar energy system in the county.

The organization’s first four solar arrays, three at the Garfield County Regional Airport and one near Missouri Heights, were built in partnership with Holy Cross Energy to supply electricity to Holy Cross’s customers.

This will be a 1 megawatt array on a 41-acre parcel, though the solar panels themselves will take up about 7 acres, just under a mile east of Silt on River Frontage Road.

That’s enough electricity to power about 130 homes, said Braun.

“Holy Cross was a very forward-thinking utility to give it a shot,” said Tim Braun, CEC spokesman.

The solar panels planned near Silt will be the first of CEC’s solar infrastructures to be built in partnership with Xcel Energy.

The electricity produced from this solar farm will feed an Xcel program that allows commercial and residential customers to purchase their electricity from clean energy sources. Xcel is legislated to provide a percentage of its electricity through renewable sources, said Braun.

Customers can purchase one or more panels in the array, and they own it just as if the panels were on top of their house, only it’s in a sunny, professionally maintained area, he said.

Customers get credits the same way as if the panel was on top of their roof, and if they move, the credits move with them, he said.

The community solar arrays also allow residents and businesses to collectively pay for the solar energy system rather than pay for solar to be installed on their homes or businesses individually, which is cost prohibitive.

“Community solar is the fastest growing part of the solar industry,” said Braun.

“CEC pioneered the country’s first community-owned solar arrays,” Richard Miller, land manager for CEC, told commissioners Monday.

Starting with a project in Carbondale, the organization has expanded and now works with 26 utilities in 12 states, said Miller.

CEC just hit 42 total facilities, and the array near Silt will be its 24th in Colorado, said Braun.

For the Silt solar farm, the organization is looking to contract Sunsense Solar out of Carbondale, who also built CEC’s other solar infrastructure in the county, said Miller.

“Our goal is to continue providing broad access to locally generated, clean power,” said Braun, who was confident that the Silt array won’t be the organization’s last in the area.

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