To help Denver achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030, a new grant program was launched by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Renewable Energy Challenge awarded the city $1 million. The money is intended to assist the Renewable Denver Initiative, which offers cheaper community solar gardens.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock spoke on the initiative and described it as a means of improving air quality and reducing the negative impact on the climate. He also stated it would serve as an investment in the local community while reducing residential utility bills.
With the $1 million grant, Denver will build solar farms across multiple municipal properties. Included in the proposed sites are parking lots for libraries, schools, and recreation centers. When those gardens generate electricity, it will be distributed to the facilities and local residents that fall into low-income categories. By switching to 100% renewable electricity, the city can help in reducing the cost of utility bills for residents living paycheck to paycheck.
Denver and Xcel Energy created the 2020 Energy Future Collaboration Work Plan as a means of bringing more community solar gardens to the city. The construction of new gardens is done in part with the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, which offered feedback to help with the process to apply for a grant and the future development of Denver community solar gardens.
Jonathan Rogers, Renewable Energy Specialist in the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, stated that this is the first solar garden to be hosted on a municipal property in Colorado. He continued by stating that having the gardens on a municipal site allows for a lower cost when compared to privately-owned land.
Denver’s Renewable Energy Challenge grant was created to drive the city toward cleaner energy. Its primary goal is to help the city achieve full reliance on renewable energy by 2040, a separate goal from Denver’s 2030 timeline.