- Target: 100% renewable energy in municipal operations by 2025, and 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2035.
- Status: In progress
- RES: Community solar gardens
- Implementation: The town of Breckenridge, Colorado aims to power its municipal operations entirely with solar energy by implementing five community solar gardens. It will achieve this based on the latest community solar gardens law (HB 19-1003) adopted by the state of Colorado, which has allowed dispersed communities to be connected to a renewable energy electric grid, by expanding the concept of community solar gardens, and the concept of “community.” Four of the solar gardens will be in Logan County, in the state’s northeastern corner, and another along Interstate 70 near the town of New Castle. The community solar concept pioneered by the state in 2010 is a model that has been adopted by other states such as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota.
Initial efforts in local solar development in Colorado did not work due to land costs, jurisdiction (more than 80% of Summit County were federal lands), ownership (remainder were private), and topography (land too forested or steep). A sizeable 2 MW community solar garden required at least 10 acres, which was a challenge for the high-priced mountain resort areas and Boulder County. The previous law also limited subscriptions. Community solar gardens had to be within the same county or an adjacent county to be a subscriber. This meant subscriptions by residents, businesses, and organizations in Denver for community solar were precluded.
The Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act removed the adjacency requirements and stipulated that the solar garden must only be within the service territory of the utility serving the subscriber. The previous maximum of 2 MW was also increased to 5 MW allowing greater flexibility for solar developers and attracting larger subscribers such as school districts.
Calls in recent years have been made to accelerate the modernisation of Colorado's electrical grid through at least one bill introduced by the state. This is in order to build new community solar gardens in rural areas to meet urban demands.
The town of Breckenridge expects to save over $700,000 in energy costs through a 20-year contract with little upfront capital costs. Besides decarbonising the electricity supply to municipal buildings, it is overseeing Alta Verde, an 80-unit affordable housing project with a 500-kW on-site solar array. The town aims for all new construction to be net zero. Source: mountaintownnews.net
- Population: 4,945 (2019)
- Area: 6.04 sq mi (15.65 km2)
- Link: Summit Community Climate Action Plan
- © David Mark