Collective plans ‘solar garden’ in Boulder

BOULDER — Clean Energy Collective LLC plans to build a community-owned “solar garden” in Boulder.

The Boulder Community Solar Array will consist of 2,016 solar panels and have the capacity to generate 500 kilowatts of energy. It will be built on 3.5 acres of land at 1600 66th St. in Boulder.

Utility company Xcel Energy Inc. and solar company REC Solar Inc. are partners in the project. Xcel provides power to Boulder, and REC Solar specializes in grid-tied solar electric design and installation. It has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon.

“Solar garden” projects are made possible through the Colorado Community Solar Garden Act passed in 2010 by the state Legislature.

Clean Energy Collective will finance and manage the project. Tim Braun, a company spokesman, said Xcel customers who choose to participate will buy panels that are expected to range in price from $575 to $830 each. In return, customers will receive an approximate $15 credit each month from Xcel. At that rate, customers likely will see a return on their investment in three to five years. A federal renewable energy tax credit also will be available to customers, which will speed the time for a ROI to be realized.

Clean Energy expects to make a profit by marking up the panel price. It also will have the responsibility of maintaining the array.

The company has received $13 million in venture capital from New Energy Capital in New Hampshire and Black Coral Capital, which has offices in New York, Boston and Montreal, Braun said.

Clean Energy Collective moved its headquarters from Carbondale to Boulder in December. Its 7,000-square-foot headquarters at 3005 Center Green Drive, No. 210, houses sales, marketing, business development, project management and finance departments. About 15 percent of the company will remain elsewhere. It currently employs seven people, and plans to grow to 50 employees this year, he said.

Clean Energy Collective built its first solar garden near El Jebel, Colorado, in 2010, according to a press statement. Since then, the company has installed 2.7 megawatts of solar power generation in the state.

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