GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer, and Grand Valley Power (GVP), an electric cooperative utility based in Grand Junction, CO, today announced an unprecedented partnership to develop and produce a community solar garden dedicated exclusively to rate-payers qualified as low-income. The first of its kind in Colorado, the 25-kW array will provide clean, renewable power to six to 10 families in the Grand Junction area, offsetting up to 90% of their electricity costs.
“We have seen a tremendous groundswell of hard-working families wanting solar and the benefits it brings,” says Chuck Watkins, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Colorado. “Community solar can provide solar to all Coloradans regardless if they’re renters or homeowners. We’d like to see this replicated all over Colorado.”
The community solar project is the first in the country to be developed by a non-profit in direct partnership with a utility to provide renewable energy generation to qualifying rate-payers. GVP is a major stakeholder in the project, providing land, interconnection, and philanthropic support for the array, which is being designed and built by GRID Alternatives. The utility will own the solar equipment and provide retail bill credit for participating low-income households. GRID and GVP see this partnership as a model that can be duplicated with municipal and cooperative utilities throughout Colorado.
“This model makes sense. We can make clean energy available to folks who have never had access to it. Everybody benefits. By leveraging GRID Alternatives’ expertise in solar development and working with lower income families, we can successfully serve some of our most vulnerable members,” stated Tom Walch, General Manager of GVP.
In addition to support from GVP, GRID Alternatives is working with local partners such as Housing Resources of Western Colorado, Atlasta Solar and Alpine Bank, and bringing to the project equipment donations from its national partners SunEdison, Enphase Energy and IronRidge.
The pilot development will break ground on March 27 and is slated for completion during GRID Alternatives Colorado’s Community Solarthon event on May 30, 2015. The project will bring together over 100 stakeholders, utility leaders and community members, and make GVP and Colorado a trailblazer in renewable energy access.