Community solar garden gets first site

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The first community solar garden in Colorado Springs is set to break ground at Venetucci Farm within the next two weeks.

“The lease is signed, the installer selected, and we start construction in two weeks for a Dec. 15th completion of phase one,” SunShare founder David Amster-Olszewski wrote in an e-mail Tuesday morning.

Amster-Olszewski said he felt the location of the land is a perfect fit for the community solar project.

“Colorado Springs’ first community solar garden will be located at the City’s oldest community supported agriculture farm,” he wrote.

Amster-Olszewski said SunShare locked up financing for the project last week and it’s on schedule.

As of Oct. 20, when the company hosted a community celebration of the unanimous City Council approval of the utility regulations that make a solar garden possible, SunShare had signed leases for 600 panels in the new community solar garden.

SunShare leases solar panels to community members for 20-year terms at an up-front cost of $550 per panel.

Two panels, which is the minimum Colorado Springs Utilities will allow a customer to lease, produce enough electricity to cover about 10 percent of the average power bill in Colorado Springs.

The panels stay at the community solar garden and are maintained there. The power they generate feeds into the electric grid and consumers leasing them get credits on their bills for the power produced.

Under the regulations City Council passed on Sept. 27, Colorado Springs Utilities will credit garden participants 9 cents per watt for the power their panels produce. That’s roughly equal to what a watt costs consumers.

Amster-Olszewzki is a 24-year-old Colorado College graduate who decided to start his first solar garden endeavor here at the urging of City Council woman Jan Martin.

Click here to read previous CSBJ coverage about Sunshare