Holy Cross Energy service territory to benefit from growing low-income solar access program
Holy Cross Energy is teaming up with the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and GRID Alternatives to develop a community solar array that will lower the electric bills of qualified low-income residents in the electric cooperative’s Western Colorado service territory. The project is part of a statewide initiative to demonstrate how the community solar model can be optimized to reduce energy costs for utilities’ highest need customers—those who spend more than 4 percent of income on utility bills.
Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann commended Holy Cross and GRID for their efforts to bring more clean energy options to low-income households. “A primary goal of this initiative is to comprehensively address the energy burden upon low-income households by linking low-cost renewable energy with the energy savings provided through our Weatherization Assistance Program,” he explained.
GRID, a nonprofit solar development organization, received a $1.2 million CEO grant in August 2015 to partner with utilities to implement low-income community solar. Earlier this year, CEO and GRID announced project partners, each of which is piloting a slight variation on the low-income community solar model to address the unique needs of rural utility service areas and their customers. The projects selected are both affordable and scalable for utility partners, and offer great potential to expand across the state.
“Holy Cross Energy has a reputation as a community solar leader in Colorado—they were the first utility in the state to embrace and develop a community solar project. It’s exciting to bring HCE’s innovation and GRID’s innovation together for a project that will help families in HCE’s service territory,” noted GRID Executive Director Chuck Watkins.
Holy Cross Energy Chief Executive Officer Del Worley said the utility is interested in expanding renewable energy access with this innovative model. “This project is a win-win, it helps Holy Cross members who are having a hard time making ends meet and adds more renewable energy to our power supply mix.”
GRID’s barn-raising model of engagement brought community members together in the town of Gypsum on Aug. 11 to install the 145-kilowatt (kw) solar array. Employees from the utility, the benefiting subscribers, local elected officials, schools and others participated in installing 546 solar panels that will help save up to 35 to 45 local qualified families approximately $500 per year.
GRID’s team is excited to be working with local partners on this project. The Community Office for Resource Efficiency has long been a supporter and outreach partner with GRID in the mountain region and continues to be a strong advocate as this program develops. GRID is also partnering with Colorado Mountain College and Walking Mountains Science Center to offer practical hands-on solar job training and experience for local youth.
Source: Holy Cross Energy, 8/9/16