A break for low-income households, a boon for non-profits such as schools, fire stations, and others, and an opportunity for volunteers to get job training and hands-on experience in solar installation skills—the Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm is breaking new ground.
The community solar farm, largest in the region, is being built on 9 acres of land near the Larimer County Landfill by the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) in partnership with GRID Alternatives Colorado, a non-profit organization based in Denver.
Nearly 6,000 solar panels will be in the 1.95-megawatt array, producing enough electricity from the sun to power nearly 300 homes. It will tie into existing utility lines for delivery to Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties.
More than a third of the electricity produced will be offered at a reduced rate to PVREA households whose income level is at or below 80% of the median in their county. Reduced-rate subscriptions are also available to non-profits. An estimated 300 PVREA members will be able to offset a portion their bill with locally generated electricity for the 20-year life of the project, notes PVREA.
PVREA members who don’t qualify as low-income will be offered subscriptions for the remaining two-thirds of solar energy produced by the array.
“Solar energy has predominantly only been available to those households who can afford the startup costs. This project allows PVREA to be able to offer a solar subscription to any member, regardless of income level or location in Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties,” says PVREA President and CEO Jeff Wadsworth.
A break on electricity costs to low-income households and nonprofits isn’t the only benefit of the new project. Volunteers are being sought to help build it, while learning new skills and gaining experience that may be useful in future paid jobs elsewhere.
It’s “our barn-raising approach,” says GRID Alternatives Executive Director Chuck Watkins—an innovative way to supply job training opportunities.
No experience is necessary to volunteer. All training, insurance, and site safety will be entirely covered for individuals and groups who volunteer. Anyone with an interest in solar, from age 16 on up, can sign up.
The project is part of a statewide initiative launched by the Colorado Energy Office designed to demonstrate how the low-income community solar model can be developed to address the unique needs of rural utility service areas and their members.
Join PVREA and GRID Alternatives at the kickoff celebration on August 15, 2017, at the Coyote Ridge site, 5887 South Taft Hill Road, Fort Collins. The program includes speakers and light refreshments.
The Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm is expected to be completed in October. Learn more about this project and the PVREA’s other renewable energy projects at www.pvrea.com/programs/renewables.
VOLUNTEER AT COYOTE RIDGE
Any hours you can work during the build, which runs Monday-Saturday from July 31-August 26, 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m.
5887 South Taft Hill Road, Fort Collins, CO
Anyone with an interest in solar (ages 16+). No experience needed!
Contact Allison Moe at email@example.com or at (303) 481-4384 to learn more and reserve your spot.