Community solar has the power to, well, bring a community together. We see a great example of this in Silverthorne, Colo., where a first-of-its-kind partnership among private organizations and a Colorado nonprofit will bring community-shared solar power to low-income families.
Alpine Bank, a locally owned and operated community bank with 38 locations across Colorado, purchased a 25-kW block of community solar capacity, about 82 individual solar PV panels, in Clean Energy Collective’s Breckenridge Ullr Community Solar Array and donated it to the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), a Summit County, Colo.-based nonprofit that works to strengthen local families through education and connection to resources. FIRC will assign the monthly bill credits earned by the panels’ power generation to local families who can best use the assistance.
“This innovative partnership with FIRC and CEC is a great example of what we represent,” said founder and chairman of Alpine Bank, J. Robert Young. “When we find that when we give back to the communities that have been so supportive of us it’s a win-win deal. Community solar gave us the right opportunity to do that.”
Through community solar, every customer in a utility territory has the ability to participate in the benefits of solar power generation through locally sited, utility-scale solar PV arrays. It provides the utility with clean, locally-produced renewable energy and its participants, particularly those that don’t have the option for rooftop solar, with the opportunity for lower utility bills.
“Alpine Bank is a shining example of a community solar user,” remarked Paul Spencer, CEC founder and CEO. “In addition to this donation, they power 22 of their facilities with community solar across five different arrays through four different utilities, spanning 40,000 sq. miles. That is amazing. It is the epitome of how companies can use clean energy and community solar.”
Clean Energy Collective, the nation’s leading community solar developer, currently operates 23 community solar facilities across Colorado, serving more than 75 percent of the state’s electricity customers.
“This partnership is a good example of a tool that we can really use,” said Tamara Drangstveit, FIRC’s executive director. “By receiving this donation of solar energy credits we can help a variety of families offset their energy bills so they can use those additional resources to help make sure their children have the best start in life or have health insurance.”
— Solar Builder magazine