Co-op Solar Spring Break 2017

Grand Valley Power in Grand Junction, GRID Alternatives and the Colorado Energy Office announced the development of the third phase of a low-income solar project at Grand Valley Power’s Community Solar Array.

Through a partnership between GVP and GRID, the first phase of this 29 kW solar array was installed in 2015, which was the first of its kind in the nation. A second array was installed in late 2015. GVP’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Walch stated at the time, “In the grand scheme of things, a 29-kilowatt solar array serving six to 10 families is a small project. But I like to think that this is a big idea — one that can be replicated at utilities across the state and across the nation.”

GRID received a $1.2 million CEO grant in August 2015 to partner with utilities to implement low-income community solar as part of a statewide initiative. Since GVP’s first installation with GRID, five other Colorado rural electric cooperatives and one municipal utility have partnered with GRID and CEO to pilot a slight variation on the low-income community solar model developed by GVP. Development of the third phase of GVP’s Community Solar Array will mark the seventh such project built as part of the initiative. At the end of the two-year grant period, more than 1 megawatt of solar generation directly benefiting more than 300 Colorado families will be installed.

What separates this phase of the GVP Community Solar project from previous phases is this year, students from Beloit College in Wisconsin spent their spring break installing the solar array. Beloit College is one of three schools involved in GRID’s Campus Chapter pilot program, Solar Spring Break. The students spent March 6-8 learning about solar system design and solar policy. From March 9-10, the group installed a ground-mounted community solar system at the GVP site. This was an opportunity for students to experience hands-on solar industry workforce training with GRID, America’s largest non-profit solar installer.

With this completed phase, the partnership between GVP and GRID installed enough solar to benefit at least 35 Grand Valley Power members who need it the most over the next 20 years.

Penitente Solar: Lighting the Way in the San Luis Valley

Over the past decade, solar energy manufacturers and developers have made significant strides in the quality and affordability of this electric generation resource. The per-kilowatt-hour price from solar generators in the past five years has dropped almost 30 percent making this renewable resource competitive with traditional generation.

For the past four years, San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative has been investigating the installation of a 2.75 AC megawatt solar project. Its top priority is ensuring that the project is cost effective. Last summer, San Luis Valley REC negotiated a power purchase agreement with RES-Americas. RES-Americas provided attractive pricing that will provide modest power supply cost reductions.

The project has been named Penitente Solar and will be located in the southwestern part of Saguache County. San Luis Valley REC purchased the 25 acres of land on which the project will be constructed and all the agreements necessary to build this project have been executed. Construction is scheduled to begin in early spring and should be complete by midsummer.