Colorado Springs Gets Its First Solar Co-Op
April 28, 2022
Colorado Springs recently got its first solar co-op, making it the 10th total in the state.
The co-op was set up by Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit that advocates for energy rights and educates residents on solar power. Its creation comes after an increasing number of Colorado Springs residents have chosen to install solar panels. The city sees more than 1,000 installations on an annual basis.
What Does the Colorado Springs Solar Co-Op Offer?
Solar United Neighbor’s goal is to reduce the price of rooftop solar panel systems for homeowners in the city. Members of the co-op can expect a 10% to 12% discount on their purchase. What’s more, this is before local rebates and incentives go into effect, which will further reduce upfront costs.
The hope is that the price paid for a solar panel array through the co-op will replace utility power costs every month. Once the panels are paid off, a Colorado Springs Solar Co-Op member only has to pay a fee for accessing the city grid. People involved with the co-op reassure that money is saved over time.
[Related: What Is Off-Grid Solar Power?]
Saving Money vs. Saving Energy
Jim Riggins, an electrical engineer and steering committee member, says people are more intrigued about saving money than reducing their carbon footprint. “Saving money is as much a conservative value as it is a progressive value,” Riggins said.
Riggins has his own solar panel system, which he was able to pay off in seven years. It powers both his home and two electric vehicles (EVs), allowing him to save money on his electricity bill as well as on gas. Though Riggins is likely sourcing electricity for his car through an outlet in his garage, home-based solar carports and public solar-powered EV charging stations are becoming increasingly popular.
Riggins also explains that the city’s utility company will have access to locally generated power from homeowners’ rooftop solar panels. About 6% to 10% of electricity is lost in transmission through power lines, which isn’t sustainable.
That said, excess power from the city’s solar panels will go into the grid. This will benefit the entire community with more reliable access to power without losing any money or electricity along the way.
[Related: Home EV Charging vs. Public EV Charging]
Peak View Solar and Electrical Joins With Solar United Neighbors
All members of the Colorado Springs Solar Co-Op receive the same vendor-supplied panels and equipment at the same discounted price.
Nancy Brodhagen, owner of Peak View Solar and Electrical, estimates that homeowners can spend about $2.80 per watt for a five-kilowatt (kW) system, which adds up to a total of $14,000. This system size is large enough to accommodate a 2,000-square-foot home.
However, residents with larger homes in the Colorado Springs area will likely need an eight-kW system to match their energy needs, and as a result, will spend $22,000.
Brodhagen explains how she has seen prices as high as $4.50 per watt, so solar co-op members are able to achieve substantial savings. Additionally, every co-op member has an independent contract with Peak View.
However, joining the co-op doesn’t mean members have an obligation to buy a solar panel system. But if they decide to, they’ll create independent contracts with Peak View. At the end of the day, Peak View’s goal is to ensure residents can produce as close to 100% of their solar energy needs as possible.
Decline in Solar Panel Cost Sparks Customer Demand
The dropping cost of solar panels in recent years has resulted in more people pursuing solar installations in the Colorado Springs area.
Danielle Oller, a spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities, explains how the company approved 1,169 rooftop installations by mid 2021 and 1,345 overall in 2020. The demand for solar is quickly increasing.
Gabe Caunt, a distributed energy strategies engineer for Colorado Springs Utilities, states, “Any additional renewable generation that customers install contributes to reduced emissions and reduced fuel purchase costs for Springs Utilities.”
Essentially, the rapid increase in solar panel interest helps the city utility just as much as homeowners. And even after the federal solar tax credit phases out for homeowners in 2023, solar panel interest is expected to remain strong.
The Rise in Colorado’s Clean Energy Movement
Caunt also made a point that several companies in the Colorado Springs area are installing solar panels to meet their corporate sustainability goals. While corporations aren’t eligible to join co-ops created by Solar United Neighbors, the rise in solar energy use is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of responsible, renewable energy practices.
Contact Freedom Solar for SunPower Solar Panels
If you’re looking to invest in SunPower solar panels for your home or business, contact Freedom Solar today. We serve several states, including Colorado, with offices in both Colorado Springs and Denver.
Give us a call at +1 (800) 504-2337 or complete our consultation form. One of our solar specialists will be in touch!
Featured image via Unsplash