100 Percent Affordable: Boulder, Clean Energy Collective Community Solar Project Serves Those in Need

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Community solar projects aim to make solar more accessible to everyone. Those unable to put solar on their own roof can buy in to a solar garden and reap the benefits. Including those living in affordable housing or in a homeless shelter.

The new community solar farm coming to Boulder, Colorado will be the first in the country to provide 100 percent of the energy generated to low-income and homeless communities.

In partnership with the City of Boulder, Boulder County, and a consortium of affordable housing providers, the Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has been awarded a contract for a 500 kW solar array through Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community program.

It is the only project to be selected in Boulder County.

“We are honored to be one of the few teams selected,” said Tim Beal, director of Sustainable Communities for Boulder Housing Partners (BHP). “This project could dramatically reduce the energy costs for hundreds of low-income households in our community.”

The consortium of several homeless and affordable housing providers in Boulder will be able to purchase shares in the solar garden, offsetting energy costs for the residents they serve.

“The city supports the solar garden model as an innovative way to make renewable sources of energy accessible to everyone,” said David Driskell, executive director of Planning, Housing and Sustainability for the City of Boulder. “Even as prices come down, solar is not always an option for residents who live in multi-family or reduced-cost housing. This particular project allows a broader segment of our community to enjoy the benefits of clean energy generation.”

Back in 2010, the solar garden concept was pioneered in Boulder. Five years later, the city continues to provide a leadership role in solar accessibility by developing the first large-scale community-owned solar project in the nation that is earmarked 100 percent for a community’s affordable housing residents.

“At a time when energy costs play a vital role in preserving affordability, we are excited to explore all options for local energy generation that provide stable, predictable energy for our community,” said Susie Strife, Boulder County sustainability coordinator. “This is a terrific example of public-private partnerships making a difference for residents.”