Ritter cuts ribbon on solar array at Garfield County Regional Airport | PostIndependent.com

Ritter cuts ribbon on solar array at Garfield County Regional Airport

Jury Jerome Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado – Former Gov. Bill Ritter praised Holy Cross Energy, the Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and Garfield County for collaborating to install what is, for now, the nation’s largest community-owned solar array.

The array’s 3,575 solar energy panels are expected to produce more than 1,500 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity each year for as many as 350 Holy Cross Energy customers who buy in to the project.

Ritter, other dignitaries and activists for solar energy attended a ribbon-cutting held Tuesday morning at the site of the array on county-owned land at the Garfield County Regional Airport near Rifle. The array was installed by Sunsense Solar of Carbondale.

“Our ability to move to a clean energy economy in Colorado is a product of the political will that the people of the state have, to really try and find clean energy solutions,” Ritter said.

“The CEC has it right. This is a way for people to have affordable power and to be able to participate and feel good about how they’re generating their energy,” Ritter added.

After leaving office in January, Ritter is now the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

He praised Holy Cross Energy one of the country’s top rural electric co-op utilities, and urged Holy Cross to continue finding ways to produce renewable energy. Holy Cross Energy is already a leader among Colorado’s 22 electric co-ops in terms of installed capacity for renewable energy generation.

Paul Spencer, president of the Clean Energy Collective, said Holy Cross Energy customers in Garfield, Eagle or Pitkin counties will be able to buy one or more panels at the array, and enjoy the savings on their electric bills based on the actual solar energy production from the array.

“We are leveraging scalability to the benefit of each individual panel owner,” said Spencer. “Our structure allows members to receive all of the rebates and tax incentives of home-sited systems. You don’t even need a roof to adopt clean energy today, and the paybacks are higher than ever, both for the environment and financially.”

The array covers five acres of land at the county airport.

In addition to Ritter, other dignitaries attending the event included Holy Cross Energy CEO Del Worley, Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert, Parachute Mayor Pro-Tem Judith Hayward, Carbondale Mayor Stacy Bernot, Garfield Clean Energy Chairman Greg Russi, Carbondale Trustee Ed Cortez, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association Director Neal Lurie, JP Morgan Chase senior vice president Karen Lowe, and Katherine Dart, program manager for the Community Office For Resource Efficiency (CORE).

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