In an effort to increase its renewable resources, Summit County, CO is considering switching to new community solar programs. County commissioners have started to eye the possibility for community solar coming to regions like Keystone during a Nov. 10 session. Sustainability Coordinator Michael Wurzel headlined the meeting with a presentation on different programs that commissioners could consider adopting.
Among the community solar programs Wurzel presented was the option for the county to subscribe to an already-active program. Additionally, he explained to the county board, Summit could have its own facilities built within the county. Bringing community solar to the county opens up clean, renewable energy to local residents, businesses, and organizations. Summit County energy customers would be able to participate in the community solar program and draw energy from its overall capacity. In exchange for being a subscriber, they could also receive monthly credits on their utility bill.
The one issue with subscribing to a previously-activated program is that the county would not see any of the energy being generated. The bill credit would be a financial benefit, but the local region would not be running on green energy.
Community solar is an affordable alternative for homeowners looking to participate in solar generation. Rather than having to build expensive solar panels, they can simply subscribe and start saving. With this setup in Summit County, customers would still be working directly with Xcel Energy, which has built a sizable portfolio of solar projects in the past year.
According to Wurzel’s proposal, the programs would save the county money. Should the county subscribe to even just a megawatt of power, it could save approximately $272,000 over 20 years. Additionally, if the county subscribes to an existing program, there would be no upfront costs. If it opts to build its own, construction and maintenance of the solar infrastructure would be its responsibility.
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence was on board with Wursel’s proposal for building a community solar garden and suggested the county purchase land prone to receiving more sunlight. However, the other commissioners weren’t necessarily ready to move forward with a plan. Currently, they are still discussing options and will likely hear presentations from solar developers.
A decision on how the county will approach solar is expected after the new board is sworn in on Jan. 12.