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Solar Gardens Springing Up in Colorado

Community solar projects, also known as “solar gardens” are springing up everywhere Colorado thanks to a favorable state law passed last year and the hard work of the Solar Gardens Institute, a partner on Community Solar Day.

On Thursday October 13, the Board of the San Luis Valley town of Antonito, Colorado voted 7-0 to host a community owned “solar garden” at their water treatment site, reported Alamosa’s Valley Courier. The half-acre, 50-kilowatt site is sufficient to power 20 homes, and may be expanded up to 2000 kilowatts covering 16 acres if demand warrants.

As Andrea Guajardo of Conejos County Clean Water, Inc. said, “I’m excited that we can move forward with sustainable economic development, it’ll provide a way for our community to educate itself about solar given the strong interest in both large scale and distributed solar in our area.”

The following day, the Lake County Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a solar garden at a county-owned gravel pit near Leadville. The 50-kilowatt array could grow as large as 500 kilowatts, and supply subscribers in Lake, Chaffee, and Park counties including nonprofits and county government.

Solar Panel Hosting CEO Joy Hughes said, “We now are assisting over a dozen Colorado projects, from Antonito, near the New Mexico border, up to Larimer county adjacent to Wyoming. Most of the sites are on retired farmland, old mines or landfills. In the cities, we are looking at covered parking and big roofs.”

“Not all the projects will be built the first year,” said Hughes, “These will be small pilot projects in the beginning, but the gardens will grow. They will form a distributed power plant, a solar panel the size of Colorado.” A map of approximate locations will be hosted at solargardens.org.

To promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, citizens in Saguache County, in southern Colorado have formed an organization called SAGE – Saguache Alliance for Green Energy. In April 2011, the Saguache town Board of Trustees signed a letter of intent with the Solar Panel Hosting.

For more information see www.solargardens.org and www.solarpanelhosting.com

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