April 2022
Now that spring has arrived, solar energy production will really ramp up. Many of us have solar panels on our homes and businesses to effortlessly collect the sun's energy and turn it into electricity for ourselves and our neighbors. But for others, rooftop solar is not a good option. For those who live in apartments, who have shaded roofs, or who simply prefer another way to go, Community Solar is a great choice. In this month's issue, we explore some of the issues and options, as well as ways for you to get involved. Happy Spring!
Sunny regards,
Rebecca Cantwell 
for New Energy Colorado

p.s. Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues and let us know what else you would like to read about by emailing us here
Community Solar Gardens Offer Solutions for All

Colorado pioneered Community Solar Gardens and the state offers a vibrant array of providers and programs.
Community solar gardens operate somewhat like community food gardens: you purchase a portion of what is produced. You are buying solar energy for your use that is generated and fed to the grid in your neighborhood, or at least in your utility territory. The “gardens’’ offer benefits including:
  • The solar array is not on your roof so if you are a renter, likely to move soon, live in a multifamily dwelling or have a shaded roof, they are often a good solution.
  • Depending on the provider and terms you choose, there is often no upfront cost, you can cancel easily, and you can take your subscription with you when you move.
  • Your community solar provider will attempt to match your home's electricity usage and replace the usage with solar and save you money on your utility bill. Community Solar developer Pivot Energy estimates that most residents will save about 10 percent. 

If you live in Xcel Energy territory, you can see all the providers that have openings in solar gardens here. You can learn more about Xcel's program here. Municipal and rural electric utilities have been some of the leaders in solar garden development. See examples here.

Denver’s Ambitious Program Ramps Up Community Solar
Denver’s Community Solar Initiative plans to build, own and operate 15 MW of Community Solar projects by 2025, thanks to funding from a voter-approved climate tax. Projects are being distributed around the city on such sites as municipal rooftops, vacant land and over parking lots, funded in part by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The benefits will be shared between city facilities hosting the sites and income-qualified community members. McKinstry will build and operate the arrays. A paid workforce training program available to Denver residents, in partnership with GRID Alternatives, will provide about 10 percent of the solar workforce. More about Denver's program.

Agrivoltaics Catching On
Jack's Solar Garden in Boulder County is a pioneer in ``agrivoltaics'' which combines photovoltaic panels with crops. The combined Community Solar project and farm is working on innovative research programs with a variety of partners.
One of Denver’s projects will also include agrivoltaics as a 1,2 MW project in partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens- Chatfield Farms. It will integrate power production with crop cultivation, scientific research, and community engagement and education. Three rows of crops will be planted between each tracker row of solar panels. The solar array will be divided into six zones to accommodate different management objectives.

Low Income Solar Offerings Increasing
Advocates have succeeded in recent years in making Community Solar projects available to low and moderate income residents to provide greater help with electricity bills. Some Community Solar gardens are fully dedicated to help these residents. The Denver Housing Authority won a national award for one of its projects.
Pivot Energy and Energy Outreach Colorado have recently announced 15 MW of Community Solar project capacity for low and moderate income Coloradans. If you or someone you know is interested in help with your energy bills, contact EOC.
And in a recent resolution to a long-running dispute, the Public Utilities Commission decided that Xcel Energy should allot the full 75 MW of Community Solar that the PUC authorized, with the majority going to help about 16,000 more low and moderate income subscribers.
PUC Will Decide What Comes Next
Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy procure capacity for Community Solar Gardens and other larger projects from private developers through a bidding process, with parameters set by the Public Utilities Commission.
Xcel Energy recently proposed its 2022-2025 Renewable Energy Plan which will set capacity for not only Community Solar but also other solar programs and battery storage. Interested groups will be litigating the proceeding which you can follow here.
Xcel is proposing to decrease Community Solar projects built by private developers to 65 MW per year in 2022-2025, with another 10 MW of projects per year owned by Xcel. Advocates are very concerned with this reduction in program capacity and will be working to push back on the proposal.
We will keep you posted on future opportunities to weigh in on the plan.

Photos courtesy Pivot Energy
Energy Tips: From Cheap to Steep
Save Some of that Precious Snowmelt!
Spring is a good time to focus on ways to save water. Our friends at Heart of a Building offer a variety of tips.
Some highlights:
Inside the Home
Check Your Plumbing
Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves.
Install Water-Efficient Appliances
Install certified products like WaterSense toilets, showerheads and faucets as well as ENERGY STAR dishwashers and clothes washers when you update, remodel, or replace appliances or fixtures,
Be Conscious About Water Use
There are many small actions – like not running the washing machine or dishwasher until we have a full load or covering a swimming pool when it’s not in use to reduce evaporation – that can make an impact.

Outside the Home
Check for Leaks
Turn on hoses and sprinkler systems and check for leaks, fixing them before watering season begins.
Plant a Water Wise Garden
Water-efficient garden designs are easy to maintain. Indigenous plants thrive on what nature provides.
Swap Out Sprinklers for Drip Lines
Drip lines are up to 70% more effective than a standard sprinkler. 

Read more in a blog here.

Visit The Virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour
If you want to learn more about how to save money on your energy and water bills, please visit the virtual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.

Join Our Community and Take Action!
Solar CitiSuns are people who want to join together to help transform the energy landscape by advocating for solar energy and other clean energy sources for the future. It is free, quick and easy to sign up! By joining our community, you can keep informed and join others in taking action.

Please follow our Facebook Page, and share this email with your friends and colleagues, and on social media using the links below. We are stronger together!
Upcoming Events

SAVE THE DATE! June 23: Plan to join us for a Summer Solstice Party. Details Coming Soon!

April 26 - Clean Energy Solutions Summit
The spring Clean Energy Solutions Summit is a hands-on, solutions-based approach for governments, private companies or non-profit organizations and clean energy experts to develop solutions to the biggest challenges facing their organization today.

Do you know an organization that is struggling with one of its solar initiatives or projects? Invite them to join CESS as a solutions seeker. Contact Mike Kruger at mkruger@cossa.co to learn more.

April 28 - 7 p.m. - Wind Power's Legal Perils
Colorado Renewable Energy Society Jeffco Chapter

May 19 - 7 p.m. - Climate Change and the Ski Industry
Colorado Renewable Energy Society Webinar:

Three Stories We Think You'll Want to Read