November 15, 2013 Updated: November 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm
Minneapolis-based utility giant Xcel Energy Inc. said Thursday it has selected Colorado Springs-based SunShare to develop and sell interests in three community solar arrays, called “solar gardens,” in Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties. The gardens will provide Xcel with 4.5 megawatts of electricity.
“We are excited about our partnership with Xcel Energy, and the opportunity to bring solar energy without rooftop panels to thousands of homes, businesses, municipalities and schools in the Denver” area, said David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare’s founder and president.
Xcel plans to add 6.5 megawatts of power from solar gardens next year and selected SunShare to develop more than two-thirds of that total, based on “an evaluation of its price and the operational value it brings to the electric system,” Xcel said Thursday in a press release.
SunShare has 12 megawatts of solar gardens built, under development or awarded in the Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins areas, including five arrays totaling 2.5 megawatts of electric generating capacity.
Solar gardens — promoted under the Colorado Community Solar Gardens Act — enable individuals to purchase a share in a large solar array or, in SunShare’s case, a contract for solar power. “People don’t want to own the equipment; they want the energy,” Amster-Olszewski said. “That’s what we are selling.”
The gardens are seen as an option for those who can’t afford their own rooftop solar array, don’t have adequate sun or live in apartments.
SunShare’s 10 projects are valued at about $40 million, Amster-Olszewski said. The three new projects account for $10 million of the total, he said.
The Denver Post contributed to this report