Monday, October 31, 2011

EVENT: November 4 CRES Workshop in San Luis Valley

Friday November 4, 2011
CRES Energy Workshop in the San Luis Valley
Your Renewable Energy Project: Strategic Planning
for Fast-Track Permitting

Do you have a small renewable energy project you’d like to develop? Small wind, hydro, solar, maybe biofuels?  Wondering about how to work with local agencies but unsure about permitting needs?  Don’t let unexpected permitting and environmental compliance requirements keep you from realizing your vision! 

CRES, Grand Environmental Services, and Rebecca English and Associates are presenting a series of strategic environmental planning workshops across Colorado, starting with a workshop on November 4, 2011 in Monte Vista in the renewable-energy rich San Luis Valley.  Click [here] to register.

This one-day workshop will help renewable energy project proponents:   
  • Get better organized
  • Evaluate energy project strengths and challenges
  • Develop a strategic plan for team-building, permitting, funding, and implementation
  • Meet and work with like-minded folks working on similar projects
 We will include a panel of local energy experts including:
  • Heather Sanchez and Terryl Jensen - San  Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative
  • Marty Asplin - Del Norte
  • Mark Simmons - Clear Energy
  • Chris Canaly - San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
  • Joy Hughes - Solar Gardens Institute

CRES Executive Director Tony Frank will speak on renewable energy trends in Colorado and the importance of community-scale distributed energy generation for local jobs, a cleaner environment, and energy security.

This workshop is co-sponsored by the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC), the Town of Antonito, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council and ClearEnergy. 

To pay by check or cash, email Becky English.

Workshop Date and Time:  Friday November 4, 2011, 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Contact: 970 509 0199 or 303 733 4064
RSVP:  Attendance is limited, RSVP today!
Cost:  $15 in advance before 5PM November 2, $20 at the door, lunch included.
Venue:  SLV Rural Electric Cooperative at 3625 US Hwy 160, approximately 2 miles west of Monte Vista, Colorado 81144, (719) 852- 3538.
More Information: or call 970 509 0199 or 303 733 4064

Tentative Workshop Agenda

A.M.-Overview, Resources, Connections

8:30 AM
Signup and coffee
Welcome – Heather Sanchez SLVREC and Becky English CRES
Heather Sanchez – comments on Cooperative business model and support for small energy developers?
Chris Canaly SLVEC – Valley-wide considerations, ecosystem, big base map
Geoff Elliott GES – Strategic Planning Overview
Panel of Helpful Folks – focus on nuts and bolts of energy planning + permitting

Becky English – Permitting/communications/reporting – how to build alliances to meet purpose and need, logical funding directions?
Terryl Jensen SLVREC – rules of thumb for power generation and transmission, different scales mean different engineering

Kelly Thompson Agro Engineering – overview of ag-energy connections and considerations?

Joy Hughes – Solar Gardens, how will they work for Antonito, Saguache, Crestone?
Becky and Geoff – Strategic planning for the Antonito Wastewater Plant Solar Site, introduction to tools and techniques.
Lunch Speaker Tony Frank CRES – statewide CRES initiatives, community + business trends, policy challenges

P.M.-Strategic Planning Applications to Local Community Energy Projects

Breakout groups evaluate several possible sites in and around Antonito for renewable energy installations.  Connectivity pros, cons, strengths, challenges.
Whole Group Strategic planning Exercise – compare site strengths, challenges, permitting, funding opportunities
Participants work on their own projects in groups or individually
Wrap up and To Do Lists

Geoff Elliott 970-509-0199
Becky English 303-728-4131
Heather Sanchez 719-852-3538

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Leadville, Colorado Solar Garden with the Solar Gardens Institute

With our Community Supported Energy program, we may be able to offer a lower price than the article mentions.

With our Solar Savings Now program, we may be able to offer electric bill savings with no money down.

From the Leadville Herald:

The Lake County Energy Advisory Group is working on a creating a solar garden in Lake County, which will allow residents from the community to buy panels in a strategically located area.

To move ahead with the project, the developer, Solar Gardens Institute, will need 10 subscribers to the system, according to Lynne Greene with High Country Conservation Center, facilitating the project.

At this time, the project has one anchor tenant committed to subscribing to 40 percent of the system. This is the largest amount any one subscriber can take, according to Greene.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Adam Capital Finances Solar Panels for Affordable Housing in New Orleans

Adam Capital Clean Energy Asset Finance LLC, a leader in the clean energy lending space, has agreed to extend $1 million to Sustainable Environmental Enterprises (SEE) of Louisiana, a community-development organization that is financing solar for disadvantaged communities in New Orleans. The loan will finance rooftop solar panels for over 85 low-income homes, and help SEE become one of Louisiana's leading solar providers to low-income communities.

After Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana recognized the important role solar power can play in making communities less vulnerable to extreme weather events. The state has offered premium solar incentives to help rebuild communities like New Orleans, but local homeowners and organizations have struggled to secure financing.

Adam Capital, a leading private investment fund in the renewable energy sector, provides much-needed investment capital for clean energy projects, thereby solving a critical funding gap in the market. The company recognizes that solar financing is especially significant for low and moderate income households, who spend a higher percentage of their income on energy but cannot afford to own solar.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Brewster inks solar deal - construction starts this week - - Wicked Local - Cape Cod

Brewster is on the verge of approving zoning rules for solar arrays (Articles 16 and 17 on the Nov. 7, town meeting warrant) but they've inked a lease for a two-acre solar panel array on land at the Water Department off Freeman's Way.

The lease is for 30 years and was signed with My Generation Energy of Dennis.

"We arranged it like any other business in the industrial park area," explained Luke Hinkle, President of the company, which is based on Great Western Road. "We're paying them an annual lease. The energy will be provided to the grid. The net metering credits go to the members of the co-op; the Brewster Community Solar garden Cooperative."

The cooperative is open to Brewster residents and businesses only and shares are still available.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Friday, October 21, 2011

Solar Gardener Training Kicks off in Denver October 28

Connecting Communities Colloquium - Implementing Solar Gardens 

RSVP to so we can get an accurate head count.  This event will be available live over the web - stay tuned for details!

Solar Gardener Training

Friday October 28, 2011 – 1 - 4 PM
Habitat for Humanity Building, 3245 Eliot Street, Denver, Colorado

            A solar gardener is a combination community organizer and project manager who brings together all the pieces needed to create a community solar garden.  Stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from the people who've been there before.

1:00 Rachel EmmerModerator - Solar Gardens Institute
            - Greetings and introductions

1:30 Gary Nystedt (via skype) - Ellensburg Community Renewables Project (Ellensburg, Washington)

How Solar Gardening was Born 

               In 2006, the municipal utility of Ellensburg, Washington installed the first community solar project open to the public.  The project has grown year to year to over 100 kilowatts, and is now entering its fourth phase which includes small wind turbines.  Gary is the original gardner - he tells the story of how a small city came together to make shared solar available to everyone in the community.

2:00 David Brosch - University Park Solar (University Park, Maryland)

Community Supported Energy 
 In 2010, the University Park Church of the Bretheren installed a 22.7 kilowatt solar array funded by a group of 35 investors under a private membership exemption to Maryland securities law.  Similar to a solar garden, this community supported array is owned by the investor group, which sells power to the church building and receives net metering benefits from the utility PEPCO.  David is working to develop a solar gardens law in Maryland.

2:30 Joy Hughes - Founder, Solar Gardens Institute (Moffat, Colorado) 

               - Solar Gardener Training

A solar gardener is a combination community organizer and project manager who brings together all the pieces needed to create a community solar garden.  The Solar Gardens Institute is inaugurating a training program to help tomorrow's solar gardeners to learn from those active today, avoiding the reinvention of the wheel.  Joy will explain the trainings, the homework, and the requirements for solar gardner certification.

3:00 Rachel EmmerModerator - Solar Gardens Institute
            - Moderated discussion

4:00 Adjourn

Suggested donation $10

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Greg Ching Letter to the Editor on Solar Gardens and Boulder Municipalization - Boulder Daily Camera

Solar gardener Greg Ching weighs in on the brewing battle in Boulder.

(Full Letter Reposted)

Implementing Solar Gardens

O pponents of measures 2B and 2C cite the loss of community solar gardens. Xcel Energy's recent threat of eliminating solar rebate programs in Boulder adds to the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that seems to permeate the arguments against measure 2B and 2C.

As an early proponent of community solar gardens, I strongly disagree. Furthermore, the Public Utilities Commission states quite clearly that Xcel cannot unilaterally prevent Boulder ratepayers from participating in solar rebate programs that all ratepayers contribute to.

The truth is that the Colorado Community Solar Gardens Act was signed into law in June 2010. Yet, a year and a half later we still do not have final rules with implementation specifics. Xcel Energy has dragged the Colorado PUC community solar gardens rules into review, rehearing and reconsideration -- the dreaded "Triple R."

I believe the City of Boulder can move much faster to implement community solar gardens than the PUC and investor-owned utilities like Xcel. Measures 2B and 2C offers hope that Boulder can "super-size" the solar rebate programs beyond Xcel's standard offerings. The Solar Gardens Institute I work at can suggest improvements to facilitate virtual groupings of rooftops as well as encourage greater adoption of commercial roofs for their residential customers.

I encourage Boulder voters to also elect candidates who are unafraid to vote yes on measures 2B and 2C. Just as in California's Proposition 16 campaign when Pacific Gas and Electric outspent local power advocates by a factor of 575, I am confident smart Boulder voters will follow the investor-owned utility money-trail and ignore the current 10-times opposition spending.


Chief Sustainability Officer,

The Solar Gardens Institute,


Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Definition of Community Power - Ontario Solar Energy Association

Ontario continues to be North America's leader in community owned energy. This shows how solar gardens and a feed-in tariff can work hand in hand.


What is Community Power

Community Power is a class of sustainable energy projects that are owned, developed and controlled in full or in part (50 per cent or more) by residents of the community in which the project is located.  Under the OSEA definition, Community Power proponents include local residents, farmer collaboratives, co-operatives, First Nations, municipalities and other institutions working to develop local sustainable energy projects.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Presentation: Solar Gardens for Colorado and California

Here is the talk I would have given in Oakland (broken projector).  I will try again in Santa Monica on Friday!

Xcel threatens to plow under Boulder solar gardens - We want the Public Service Company back!

Could Boulder solar gardens not have a chance to grow? Will the green shoots be plowed under? I first started hearing rumors about this from XCEL people a few weeks back.

I wouldn't be surprised if XCEL offices were #occupied by a bunch of angry Boulderites!  I also wouldn't be surprised if we saw several other towns in Colorado opting for municipalization.

Also, XCEL has taken action at the Colorado PUC that would limit the public's ability to intervene in PUC procedures.  This is aimed primarily at limiting participation by public advocate Leslie Glustrom, 2011 winner of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society's prestigious Larson-Notari award.  Leslie has uncovered naughtiness by XCEL, from liquor purchased as "office supplies" to questionable forecasts for energy prices.  Having spent the last 16 months waiting for the PUC to approve rules for community solar gardens, I am keenly aware for the need for legislation to reform this regulatory body, which is captive to the company it is supposed to regulate.

Let's remember that XCEL itself is not a living being and cannot threaten or speak. XCEL is composed of some documents, a bank account, and a bunch of people. Some of these people are doing great work putting together the solar gardens program, some have worked there since it was called "The Public Service Company of Colorado", and many are dedicated to its motto "responsible by nature".  If I worked there, I would be ashamed of the company's recent actions.

I really respect the mission of a public utility, how they are based on fairness to all.  But right now we have an investor owned utility (IOU - the perfect acronym!)  The Boulder municipalization movement is a good start, but we need to think bigger.  The question I have is: can Colorado have its public utility back, instead of a power company that weilds its power willy-nilly?  Would it be possible to have a "Public Service Company" again and boot the current management back to Minnesota?

The Solar Gardens Institute supports 2B and 2C, and will continue to develop solar gardens and seek subscribers in Boulder.



Xcel will consider denying its Boulder customers access to some of its voluntary programs, according to Jerome Davis, a regional vice president for Xcel Energy and treasurer of the utility's issue committee.

"Voters should be aware that measures 2B and 2C do not open, but instead, close options for the city," Davis said in the news release. "And it is misleading to say there are no adverse consequences if 2B and 2C are approved. For example, during the five or more years it will take to form the utility, we may have no choice but to discontinue, in Boulder, our Solar*Rewards, SaversSwitch, energy efficiency and conservation programs, as well as our proposed new long-term Windsource program."

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: A Harvest of Solar Gardens for Colorado

A Harvest of Solar Gardens for Colorado
Lake County and Town of Antonito Plan Solar Gardens
Solar Panel Hosting Company announces a dozen more in Colorado

WESTMINSTER, COLORADO - On Thursday October 13, the Board of the San Luis Valley town of Antonito, Colorado voted 7-0 to host a community owned “solar garden” at their water treatment site, reported Alamosa’s Valley Courier.  The half-acre, 50-kilowatt site is sufficient to power 20 homes, and may be expanded up to 2000 kilowatts covering 16 acres if demand warrants.  Says Andrea Guajardo of Conejos County Clean Water, Inc., “I’m excited that we can move forward with sustainable economic development, it’ll provide a way for our community to educate itself about solar given the strong interest in both large scale and distributed solar in our area.”

The following day, the Lake County Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a solar garden at a county-owned gravel pit near Leadville. The 50-kilowatt array could grow as large as 500 kilowatts, and supply subscribers in Lake, Chaffee, and Park counties including nonprofits and county government.

Solar Panel Hosting CEO Joy Hughes said, “We now are assisting over a dozen Colorado projects, from Antonito, near the New Mexico border, up to Larimer county adjacent to Wyoming.  Most of the sites are on retired farmland, old mines or landfills.  In the cities, we are looking at covered parking and big roofs.”  Not all the projects will be built the first year, said Hughes, “These will be small pilot projects in the beginning, but the gardens will grow.  They will form a distributed power plant, a solar panel the size of Colorado.”  A map of approximate locations will be hosted at

To promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, citizens in Saguache County, in southern Colorado have formed an organization called SAGE - Saguache Alliance for Green Energy.  In April 2011, the Saguache town Board of Trustees signed a letter of intent with the Solar Panel Hosting Company to develop a solar garden located on one to two acres in the former town dump. Saguache’s 200-kilowatt system will power municipal buildings and residents whose roofs are shaded by the town’s many heritage trees.

City officials from Aurora toured two sites in Arapahoe and Adams counties.  At 500 kilowatts apiece, these solar gardens together could supply enough power for hundreds of homes.  “We support solar energy and opportunities to make it more accessible for all members of our community.” says Karen Hancock, Environmental Program Supervisor for the City of Aurora.

Other sites are located in Boulder, Weld and Jefferson counties.  Nine solar gardens have applied to the Renewable Energy Development team at SRA international for technical assistance grants funded through the Governor’s Energy Office. 

Solar Gardens Primer:

On June 5, 2010, former Governor Bill Ritter signed the Community Solar Gardens Act. A solar garden is a community owned solar array with at least 10 grid-connected “subscribers.” Each subscriber owns or leases a number of solar panels, and receives credit for the electricity the panels produce. Subscribers can be individuals, companies, schools, or municipalities – anyone with electric service from Xcel Energy or Black Hills Energy.  Under the Act, the subscribers to a solar garden must reside within the same county or municipality. In counties with a population under 20,000, customers may subscribe to solar gardens in a neighboring county.  Solar garden subscriptions are portable for subscribers who move within the same county. The minimum subscription size is one kilowatt, and a certain number of subscriptions must go to individuals who qualify for LEAP (Low-income Energy Assistance Program).

Some municipal and rural electric areas in Colorado offer their own separate community solar programs, including United Power, Holy Cross, Delta-Montrose Electric Area, Grand Valley Rural Electric, and Colorado Springs Utilities.

About the Solar Panel Hosting Company (SPH):  The Solar Panel Hosting Company helps communities everywhere develop community solar arrays by working with local installers and nonprofits.  SPH operates the website   SPH is a for-profit, for-benefit corporation exploring certified B corporation status.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Former LADWP CEO David Nahai to Participate in Solar Gardens Event in Santa Monica - The OPEN Daily

A group of distinguished clean energy and environmental advocates will be participating in a free reception and panel discussion with Joy Hughes and the Colorado-based Solar Gardens Institute this Thursday October 18, 2011 at 6pm at Working Village in Santa Monica (212 Marine Street).

Presented by Open Neighborhoods and PermaCity, the event will feature a discussion of Colorado's Community Solar Gardens Act of 2010, and a comparison to California's proposed solar gardens bill (SB 843 Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program).  The concept is designed to allow renters to access "solar gardens" in their local community and receive solar savings as if the panels were installed on their own roof.


A panel of special guests will discuss the proposed SB 843 legislation and its significance to the Los Angeles area.  Participants include:

David Nahai, Former CEO of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Evan Gillespie, Regional Representative of the Sierra Club

Mary Leslie, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Business Council

Susan Munves, Energy and Green Building Programs Administrator for the City of Santa Monica

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Largest U.S. 'Zero Net Energy' Community Opens In California At UC Davis - Forbes

Davis, Calif.  – The country's largest "zero net energy" community — designed to generate as much energy as it consumes – officially opens Saturday on the campus of the University of California at Davis, some 80 miles northeast of San Francisco.

 While individual homes and commercial buildings that use zero net energy over the course of a year have been built in a handful of U.S. states (and nearly a dozen countries), the university says this is the largest planned community of its kind in the U.S.

The stylish development has a bit of a resort-like feel, with a pool area, outdoor barbecue grills and a sand volleyball court behind a spacious student recreation center with towering glass walls enclosing a fitness center, ping pong tables and a video game-playing area (on huge flat-screen TVs), among other amenities. Apartment buildings are centered around courtyards and oriented to capture the nighttime cooling breezes from the Sacramento delta. Solar panels on the roof of every building and on canopies over parking areas — in total a 4 megawatt photovoltaic system — will generate enough electricity over the course of the year to meet all the needs of the residents, the planners say. In the summer and on hot sunny days like Davis saw late this week, the solar panels will ideally generate even more electricity than is needed for the site and send some back to the grid. At night, as the apartments pull electricity from the grid, the use is intended to balance out the excess power produced during the day.

Read More:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Congregations Put Faith in Solar Power « Appalachian Voices

On a sunny day in April at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., the Reverend Joe Hoffman welcomed his congregation with an unusual liturgy. "Today we celebrate a particular act of faith with the dedication of solar panels on our roof," he announced from the pulpit.

The event, dubbed a "Solarbration," marked the completion of a collaborative project between The Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy, North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light and Sundance Power Systems of Asheville, that installed a 10 kilowatt system of 42 solar panels,

Across the country, groups like Interfaith Power & Light are working with communities of faith, recruiting them to a common cause to help reduce their carbon footprint. As the price of solar falls and its popularity grows, more and more congregations are putting faith in solar power.

"We want to communicate to people that it is the business of the faith community to care for the environment," Hoffman says. "That is what it means to be a person of faith."

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SolarShare bonds in Ontario providing 5 percent returns

The Solar Panel Hosting Company in Colorado is part of a team developing a subscriber organization based on the Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative to support at least 13 solar gardens around the state.


Imagine a low-risk bond with a return of 5 percent. Now imagine that bond supporting the development of local solar projects. That's what TREC Renewable Energy Cooperative did when it created SolarShare Community bonds.

The return rates of the $1,000 (Canadian) bonds are made possible because of Ontario's feed-in tariff (FiT). The FiT has created a low-risk environment, which means higher payments for photovoltaics and equipment made in the province.
"When you secure a feed-in tariff, it's a 20-year power-purchase agreement," said TREC spokesperson Rebecca Black. "The SolarShare bond is really unique and really ground breaking in a number of ways."

Bonds dividends are paid out biannually over the bond's five-year life. At 5 percent interest, each bond will yield $250 (Canadian) more than its original value.

The bonds, which were first offered in May 2011, are only available to residents and local businesses, according to Black.


After the five-year term, [the bondholder] can either cash it out or roll it over into a new bond," Black said.

The project already is supporting 18 community solar projects producing more than 600 kilowatts in the province.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Community share issue launched at UK sports centre - Solar Power Portal

As part of Herefordshire's h.Energy Week Leominster Community Solar Co-op will launch the first share issue for community ownership of its large solar photovoltaic array on the roof of the Bridge Street Sports Centre in Leominster. The 49kW array is expected to generate enough solar electricity to save approximately 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.


A total of £150,000 needs to be raised through community investment to fund the installation of the solar array
The share issue, which should also be eligible for Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief, will be open to any interested party. Investment levels begin at £250 with the limit being set at £20,000. If the scheme is oversubscribed, priority will be given to those living closest to the sports centre.

Investors should see returns averaging around 6% per year over the 25-year feed-in tariff, with their original lump sum being paid back at the end of this period. The electricity generated by the system will be used by the sports centre, or when not needed, fed into the National Grid.

Eithne George at Sharenergy said, "Community ownership means that local people have the opportunity to financially benefit from renewable energy on their doorstep.  Investing in this scheme will generally give people better returns than their savings accounts are offering and they know that without them, the project wouldn't happen".

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oct. 20, Santa Monica - Joy Hughes to Speak on CA Solar Gardens

Open Neighborhoods and PermaCity will be co-presenting a free solar workshop in Santa Monica on Thursday, October 20, 2011 to discuss California's upcoming community solar gardens legislation, SB 843.

The event will include a reception with Joy Hughes of the Solar Gardens Institute and a discussion of Colorado's Community Solar Gardens Act of 2010, and a comparison to California's proposed solar gardens bill (SB 843 Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program).

Advance registration required at

Learn about how California's proposed solar gardens bill may allow renters and others who do not have an appropriate roof for solar to purchase or lease solar panels in a shared solar facility in the community and receive utility bill credits for the electricity produced as if the panels were located on their own rooftops.

Presentation will be followed by an interactive panel discussion with Susan Munves, Energy and Green Building Programs Administrator for the City of Santa Monica, and Mary Leslie, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Business Council.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colorado - XCEL Reopens Solar Gardens Docket

XCEL energy has taken the Colorado PUC solar gardens rules into Review, Rehearing, and Reconsideration - the dreaded "Triple R". This largely has to do with a section of the rules that relate to customers who pay demand charges. As currently written, the rules would require bill credit rates to be calculated separately for each customer.

The rules as they stand would favor agricultural producers, which follows the intent of the statute. A group of farmers in the San Luis Valley went solar and lost a lot of money a few years back because demand charges are currently not considered in net metering. On the other hand, too generous a rate could cause residential customers to be pushed out of the solar gardens market by commercial and industrial customers engaged in applications such as metallurgy, irrigation, and EV charging. XCEL does have an argument here, so I suggest a reasonable cap on the rate to prevent this.

One argument that XCEL makes is that it would take a lot of programmer time to calculate individual rates for each customer. I figure I can save them a ton of money if I just write the code for them - I've even made it open source and posted it here free of charge:

credit_per_kWh = (demand_charge + rate_per_kWh * kWh_usage) / kWh_usage; // Calculates solar garden bill credit for demand rate customers

There you go, XCEL. One line of code.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Solar at Your Community Garden

The Solar Gardens Institute is looking for sites to host solar panels for "Community Solar Gardens". Recent legislation allows you to subscribe to electricity from a community-owned array and receive a credit directly on your electric bill. This is great for people who have shaded property or who live in apartments - just the people who use community food gardens.

The Public Utilities Commission is nearing final rules for the program, wich should begin implementation in early 2012.

Imagine a row of panels sprouting along the north side of each community garden, with the members receiving both salad greens and green electricity. We can do this!

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Solar Gardens in California and Colorado - SB843 powerpoint

     Here is "the presentation that wasn't" on Sept. 7, 2011 in Oakland - I was able to make a tolerable go of it with just a flip chart, but lots of people wanted to see it.  Thanks to the Local Clean Energy Alliance of the Bay Area for hosting this.  There will be another chance to see me present this in L.A. on October 20.

     SB843 is California's "solar gardens" bill, which would create a program hundreds of times larger than Colorado's.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 28 mini conference - Save the date!

We are planning the next Colloquium event in Denver on October 28, featuring some exciting speakers from around the country including Gary Nystedt of Ellensburg, WA, who developed the first solar garden for retail customers. He is now working on the fourth phase of the project which will include small wind turbines.

Also featured will be David Brosch of Maryland, who created a business structure for a group of 35 small investors in an array for University Park Church of the Bretheren.

We will have this at Habitat if available, otherwise feel free to suggest a good space for 50-100 people.


Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct