Adams County seals pact to add solar energy to seven facilities

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BRIGHTON — A new agreement between Adams County and a Denver-based solar energy company will create what officials are hailing as “the first county in the nation to power its buildings with community solar energy.”

Approved earlier this month by the Board of County Commissioners, Adams County has contracted with SunShare to provide seven of the county’s facilities with clean, reliable energy from a Community Solar Garden to be constructed near 46th Avenue and Imboden Road by December 2014.

When SunShare’s “solar garden” comes online, Adams County’s first-in-the-nation community solar designation will come to fruition, according to a news release from the county.

“We are really excited to partner with Adams County,” said Marc Bencivenni, Vice President of SunShare. “Their leadership in sustainability and innovation is clear and should be an inspiration for surrounding communities.”

According to Nick Kittle, Adams County’s Performance, Innovation and Sustainability Manager, the project requires zero upfront costs from the county. Additionally, the county stands to save a projected $300,000 in energy costs from the SunShare contract over the next 20 years.

“Adams County has made an important first step in moving to cleaner energy,” said Kittle. “This project makes financial sense and builds on our growing leadership role as an environmentally responsible community. We will continue to make more sustainable choices as an organization, and we’re excited to partner with SunShare to bring more Solar Gardens to Adams County. We believe this project is a winning opportunity for our organization, our community and our citizens and we are excited to be the first county in the nation to be a partner in a community solar garden.”

“The Community Solar model is quickly emerging as a major force in the renewable energy sector,” said J.W. Postal, SunShare’s Senior Vice President. “Partnerships like this demonstrate the immense demand for Community Solar--we are excited to partner with Adams County.”

In 2010, the Colorado Legislature led the nation by passing the country’s first Community Solar Gardens Act. The act has inspired 16 states from Minnesota to California to develop legislation creating their own community solar garden programs.

The law allows customers who either can’t or don’t want to put solar panels on their homes to buy solar energy from a solar array located elsewhere in the community.

Electricity generated by SunShare’s solar gardens is fed into the main power grid. SunShare’s customers buy a specific amount of energy from the solar garden and receive a credit on their Xcel Energy bill for that amount.

“Xcel Energy is a key partner in the Solar Gardens model. Xcel took a leadership role by becoming the largest investor-owned utility in the country to implement a Community Solar Garden program,” said Postal.

In an effort to encourage residents and businesses in Adams County to go solar, SunShare is offering a 10-percent discount to any business, school or resident in the city limits for the next 30 days.

For more information on the program, visit www.mysunshare.com. Customers interested in becoming a part of SunShare’s community solar gardens should email contactus@mysunshare.com or call 303-296-0919.