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Largest U.S. Community-Owned Solar Facility Goes Live

San Miguel Power Association Community Solar Array, now the largest community-owned solar facility in the U.S., has opened in southwest Colorado.

The announcement was made  by local electric cooperative San Miguel Power Association, Inc. (SMPA) and solar garden project pioneer Clean Energy Collective (CEC).

The 1.1 MW  facility covers 7 acres in the northwest corner of Paradox Valley along Highway 90 around 15 miles west of Naturita, Colorado. The facility can cater to over 200 customers living within the utility territory who can purchase individual panels for $705 each minus net rebates from SMPA.

Customers can also buy as many panels as they need to compensate for 100 percent of the electricity they consume, and receive credit for the power produced that will reflect on their monthly utility bills.

Photo Credit: Clean Energy Collective

“We are very proud to be implementing the nations’ largest community solar program in partnership with CEC, and provide an option to all of our members to receive up to 100% of their electrical needs from local, clean, and renewable sunshine,” said Brad Zaporski, manager of Energy/Member Services and Marketing of the SMPA.

Included in the price are the discounts and tax credits that are normally applicable, and the CEC will cover repair, maintenance and constructions costs for 50 years.

CEC founder and CEO Paul Spencer said the project proves the ease of access and affordability of the community-owned, utility-scale model, arguing that is the future of solar adoption.

“We are leveraging scalability to the benefit of individual panel owners. You don’t even need a roof to adopt clean energy today, and the paybacks are higher than ever—both for the environment and financially,” he said.

The CEC has already made six partnerships with utility companies other than SMPA, and is part of 14 other solar projects that are either undergoing construction or already operational. All this accounts for over 5,300 kW of installed solar PV capacity. It is projected that the energy capacity of the combined community arrays of the CEC will reach around 10 MW by the end of this year, and will exceed its 100 MW national target by 2015.


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