Over the past several years, solar panels have become a mainstay of the push for more renewable energy. Utilities, large and small, across the country have unveiled plans to add thousands of megawatts of solar-generated energy to portfolios as they aim for a net zero carbon-emission future.
In May 2009, United Power jumpstarted its renewable energy program when it powered a new, innovative concept for its members – the state’s first community solar farm, Sol Partners – at its Brighton headquarters facility.
The solar farm offered the cooperative’s members leasable solar panels and allowed members to dip their toes in the pool of renewable energy without making a costly commitment on a home installation. Panels were leased to members on a 25-year period for a small initial investment, and those members would receive a credit for power generated on the panels. In addition, the cooperative agreed to maintain the solar farm.
The innovative model received immediate adoption and quickly sold out. In August 2010, the cooperative launched its second community solar module. Its instant success incentivized other co-ops to invest in community solar projects of their own.
“The community solar model was initially meant as a tool for the local co-op and their members to bring more solar onto the system,” said New Business Director Jerry Marizza. “What was a unique concept 10 years ago has now blossomed throughout Colorado and the nation.