The San Miguel Power Association Community Solar Array, the largest community-owned solar facility in the country, is now officially open. At its location in southwestern Colorado, the 1.1MW solar array provides power to more than 200 homes.
According to Paul Spencer, the CEO and the founder of the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), this project shows that the ease and affordability of the community-owned but utility-scale model is going to have a large effect on future development.
“We are leveraging scalability to the benefit of individual panel owners,” he says. “You don’t even need a roof to adopt clean energy today, and the paybacks are higher than ever – both for the environment and financially.”
Individuals who are interested can participate by purchasing panels at the facility for $705 each, getting as many as they like, offsetting all or part of their electricty needs, with the credit for the power produced showing up directly on their monthly bills.
The $705 includes all of the tax credits and electricity discounts that customers would receive if the solar panels were installed on their actual homes. And the panels will be maintained for at least 50 years by the CEC, leaving the customers with no maintenance or repair costs.
“In addition to the SMPA Community Solar Array, CEC has partnered with six other utilities and has 14 shared solar projects operating or under construction, representing more than 5,300 kW of community-sited solar PV. By the end of 2013, Spencer estimates CEC’s community-owned arrays will be providing upwards of 10 MW of energy capacity, with that number eclipsing 100 MW nationally by 2015.”