Adams County, Colorado, Powered by Community Solar Gardens

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An entire county going solar? Adams County in Colorado will be powering its government buildings with solar, and it will be the first county in the nation to do so with privately developed community solar energy.

Denver-based SunShare announced today it has contracted with Adams County to provide the regional government with clean, reliable energy from community solar gardens.

“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.”

“Adams County has made an important first step in moving to cleaner energy,” said Nick Kittle, the Performance, Innovation and Sustainability Manager for 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.”

What’s community solar all about? In the case of solar gardens, it allows electricity customers who either can’t or don’t want to put solar panels on their homes or businesses to buy solar energy from a solar array located elsewhere in the community. It works for municipal buildings, too.

In 2010, the Colorado State 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 Gardens programs.

How does it work? 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.

SunShare has over 11 MW of community solar gardens built or under development in Colorado’s Front Range. The company has projects under way with Colorado Springs Utilities and Xcel Energy with the capacity to serve over 2,200 homes.