Community Solar for a Million Utility Customers in TX, CO


Cutting electric bills with community solar gardens will be possible for a million utility customers in Texas and Colorado

Clean Energy Collective, a community solar garden developer, has chosen industry leader First Solar to supply utility-scale solar panels for four new community solar gardens planned for Texas and Colorado. The four solar gardens in these two states now allow another million people the option to go solar.

In Colorado, customers of Black Hills Energy in Pueblo, and of Holy Cross Energy in Rifle, will be eligible. The project in Rifle, Colorado, will be the fourth community solar project CEC has worked on with Holy Cross Energy. Most of CEC’s community solar subscriptions in Colorado are sold out.

A portion of the power produced will also be made available to low-income residents within Black Hills Energy’s service territory. This will be the first community solar park in or near Pueblo, Colorado. For customers of these utilities; Black Hills Energy in Pueblo, and of Holy Cross Energy in Rifle, Colorado, a direct credit will be applied to their energy bills, just as if they had solar panels on their own roofs.

Texas gets to choose

Any Texas customers who choose the non-profit NEC Retail (Nueces Electric Cooperative) as their electricity provider can buy in to the NEC Retail community solar garden in Corpus Christie, Texas. The alliance with NEC Retail will be the first to bring community shared solar to south Texas as well as the first large-scale solar garden in a deregulated market.

Related: Solar Panels in Texas

NEC Retail is a non-profit rural electric cooperative, and in Texas, many customers can select their electricity provider. Any utility customers in Texas who are able to pick their own utility will be able to buy solar modules in the 800 kW array and then use their generation to offset their electric usage charges by switching to NEC.

CPS Energy customers – both residential and commercial – in San Antonio, Texas, will also be able to choose to buy subscriptions to the energy generated by solar gardens to cut their electric bill.

Now renters can go solar too

For all those locked out of solar savings as renters, the ease of this alternative way of going solar is part of the charm. Any utility customer can buy into a community solar garden by just ticking a box on their utility bill and begin saving with energy generation credits on their next utility bill. It’s their choice how much to invest – just a few panels or subscribe to as much as they want of the solar energy produced.

As a result, community solar is catching on fast, from just two community solar gardens in 2010, there are now 60 as of mid 2015. Just in 2014, 21 MW of community solar gardens came online. Best estimates are that 2015 is shaping up to add 115 MW of new community solar, and GTM predicts that the annual installation figure will top 534 MW in 2020.

CEC is focused only on developing community solar gardens, and the company supplies utilities with its own software designed to make it easy to successfully set up and manage community solar programs.

Because they work with utilities to make community solar gardens possible, their choice of Arizona-based First Solar to supply the solar panels is a smart move. FirstSolar now develops virtually every utility-scale solar farm over 100 MW in the US, and is increasingly also beating out international competition in supplying utility-scale solar in India, Chile and other fast-growing solar markets.

Image Credit: Clean Energy Collective

  • by Understand Solar
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  • November 9, 2015