The country’s first community-owned solar installation began delivering clean, renewable electricity to the grid in El Jebel, Colorado. The 340-panel solar installation is unique because it is owned by an array of local residents rather than any singleperson, utility, developer or corporation. The El Jebel “solar garden” represents a budding trend, pioneered inColorado, toward community solar power. The benefits are many, including lower costs and the distribution of clean electricity from the sun.
Better yet, the El Jebel facility is built on otherwise unusable land in the Roaring Fork Valley. It will produce 77.7 kilowatts of solar power at peak. Year-round and seasonal residents of the valley purchased individual portions of the array, which was developed by Clean Energy Collective and grid-connected in partnership with local electric cooperative Holy Cross Energy. Holy Cross collects the power produced by the solar garden and then directly credits owners’ utility bill each month at a rate of $0.11/kWh, with some owners paying as little as $725 per panel, or $3.15/kW, up front.