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    Solar Energy > Solar News > Solar Energy > Colorado Continues its Support of Community Solar with New Array

    Colorado Continues its Support of Community Solar with New Array

    colorado community solar arrayThe latest in a string of community solar systems just got plugged in outside of Aurora, Colo. The Aurora/Arapahoe Community Solar Array, built by the Clean Energy Collective, is a 498-kilowatt system, equivalent to about 100 average-sized rooftop solar installations.

    But the Aurora/Arapahoe Array, like all community solar projects, gives homeowners who might otherwise not have the ability to harness the energy from the sun to benefit from solar power without having to install a stand-alone system on their roof. Part of the beauty of community solar systems is that they opens the door to solar for renters, apartment- and condominium-dwellers and people who live in shady areas and are otherwise unable to install solar on their roofs. Community solar customers receive all the same rebates and incentives as residential system owners, and credit for the power produced appears directly on owners’ monthly utility bills.

    Colorado has been a pioneer of community solar, also known as solar gardens. As we wrote back in September, Colorado passed a solar gardens law back in 2010, and the first solar project that opened for community investment sold out in 30 minutes.

    And CEC, which is managing the Aurora/Arapahoe solar installation, built the nation’s first community solar system in 2010 near El Jebel, Colorado. In the last three years, the group has installed 5.1 MW of community solar in Colorado, and plans to build 11 solar gardens in the state. The Aurora/Arapahoe Solar Array is the fifth of its planned facilities, built under Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program.

    Unfortunately, even though Xcel is supporting the development of these systems, the utility is at the same time fighting the state’s net metering policies, which provide a fair market rate to solar homeowners for every watt of solar electricity they feed back into the grid. Just as with the recent battle in Arizona, in which the dominant utility eked out the smallest possible victory in its fight to eliminate home solar subsidies, Colorado is likely the next front in efforts to roll back the solar boom.

    Colorado solar array photo courtesy of the Clean Energy Collective.