Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Early Bird" solar garden subscribers wanted in Colorado

Subscribe to the Sun!

Xcel Energy recently launched their Community Solar Garden program. SGI is seeking subscribers for your local community solar arrays in Colorado. As a subscriber, you can go solar, save money on your electricity bill, pay no maintenance fees, and help provide clean renewable energy to your community.

A limited number of "early bird" subscribers will receive a discount price, if your two-step application process is complete by September 13.

XCEL Energy customers in the following areas are eligible to subscribe:

Aurora / Adams Solar Garden
City of Aurora
County of Adams

Saguache Solar Garden
Counties of Saguache, Chaffee, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Mineral, Hinsdale, and Gunnison

You must get your electric bill from XCEL Energy. Rural electric customers are not eligible for this particular program, but may be eligible for other programs with your local utility. 

Solar Gardens Institute
The Solar Gardens Institute (SGI) provides public education and policy support promoting solar gardens and community-supported energy. SGI has formed key partnerships with developers and financiers to bring local, renewable solar energy to you.

A solar garden is perfect for anyone with a shaded roof, renters, and anyone who lives in an apartment or condominium.

To subscribe:

Use our online interest form
Call 719-207-3097

You will receive additional information and instructions.

Capacity is limited...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New NREL Test Facility to Point the Way to Reliable, Renewable Energy Microgrids - CleanTechnica

Hooray NREL! On track with research to enable energy democracy...

- Joy


With the potential to incorporate a mix of clean, renewable energy sources and reliably supply electrical power to communities and businesses, microgrids figure big in modernization of the US power infrastructure. Looking to pave the way forward, the US Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is anticipating completion of a new microgrid testing facility, the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) later this year.

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

Friday, August 24, 2012

India: Forget the Grid, Community Power is Here - Compass

Just days after the historic blackout reminded us that centralized coal is the problem, not the solution to India's energy woes, a new era of entrepreneurs marked the beginning of a truly revolutionary effort to deliver energy access. The landmark deal that marked their arrival was of course lost amidst the coverage of the blackout and the continued death spiral the coal sector finds itself in. Nonetheless, the deal between OMC Power, and Bharti Infratel (India's largest mobile phone provider) to provide clean renewable energy to its off grid cell phone towers was indeed historic. It marks the arrival of Community Power and it couldn't have come a moment too soon.

Read more:

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Assembly Vote Coming on Solar Garden Bill | ReWire | KCET

If you'd like to use electricity from rooftop solar but you don't own a rooftop to put it on, the California Assembly will soon be deciding whether or not to help you. On Monday, August 27 the Assembly is scheduled to vote on SB 843, which would allow renters, low-income Californians and others who can't install solar panels on their own property to buy shares in offsite solar facilities of up to 20 megawatts in size, and share in the proceeds from power sales to utilities.

SB 843, if enacted, would create the Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program in which retail utility customers could offset up to 100% of their utility bills by buying shares in a shared facility -- often referred to as a "solar garden." The state's Senate passed the bill in 2011. Its author is State Senator Lois Wolk; the bill was introduced in the Assembly by Members Huffman and Skinner.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Xcel Energy’s Colorado community solar gardens program get planted in 30 minutes

I heard of an Oregon feed-in tariff going in two minutes - so we weren't the fastest ever...


It may be a record for selling out in the solar incentive space. Within the first 30 minutes of Xcel Energy in Colorado opening its Solar*Reward Community Solar Garden standard offer to project developers, it was sold out.

It's the first time that Xcel has offered incentives for community solar gardens. Community solar gardens are centrally located, but parts of which are purchased individually by residents or businesses that may not want to or be able to install solar at their location. Through the program Xcel is offering production incentives for the installations, which will benefit those who choose to buy in to a solar garden.

Read more:

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: XCEL Approves 2 SGI solar gardens with partners Namaste Solar, Solar Power Financial

Contact: Joy Hughes
Solar Gardens Institute
Subscriber Esther Last of Saguache's 4th Street Diner
August 20, 2012

Colorado Solar Gardens:
Empowering community members to join in the solar power movement

A consortium of community-based companies will build, manage, and finance two subscription model solar arrays in Colorado. Each array will have 497 kilowatts of capacity, enough to power over 100 subscribing households.  The solar photovoltaic (PV) developments will be available to all Xcel Energy customers under the Solar*Rewards Community program. According to an Xcel Energy press release, on opening day (August 15, 2012) the program was fully subscribed within 30 minutes.

Solar Gardens Institute founder Joy Hughes said, “It’s wonderful that the vision of distributed, community-owned solar is coming to our big cities and small towns.  When a roof is not ideal for solar, offsite shared solar is a rapidly growing part of the solution to climate change. Anyone, regardless of income, can now receive clean solar energy through the Solar Gardens program. It’s only the beginning – we’d like to see the program expanded in future years.”

Governor Bill Ritter signed the Community Solar Gardens Act into law on June 5, 2010. In July 2012, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved rules allowing Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards to open the program. Like a community garden allows people without their own gardens to grow plants, a solar garden allows people who don’t have a good space for solar panels to subscribe to a shared solar array. Subscribers receive credits on their monthly Xcel bills, similar to the credit for a rooftop solar array. Residents, businesses, nonprofits, faith communities, and local governments can become subscribers and realize a savings on their electric bills.

“Our company feels privileged to be a part of a new and exciting initiative to help bring the solar gardens concept into reality,” said Solar Power Financial founder Barry Ruby. “Our goal is to offer our subscriber customers maximum energy savings. Our team members, Namasté Solar and Solar Gardens Institute, have the ability to help reach that goal.”

"The heart of the Community Solar Garden concept provides access to clean, affordable energy to many people that are currently restricted from the market. We cannot imagine a better philosophical fit than this program with Namasté Solar's triple-bottom-line (people, planet, profit) and employee-ownership business model. We are very committed to working with other like-minded groups in order to bring these projects to fruition. We are excited to add this new chapter of Community Solar Gardens to Namasté Solar's story of holistic business." stated Stanci March, Commercial Project Developer and co-owner of Namasté Solar.

In 2010, the City of Aurora hosted a meeting of 70 members of an ad-hoc solar gardens working group to discuss the PUC rulemaking process and to explore securities and tax questions. City officials later toured the development’s chosen site and were present at a lease signing ceremony at Aurora City Hall. Aurora Solar Garden One will be located just southeast of Denver International Airport on retired farmland. Xcel Energy customers throughout the City of Aurora and throughout Adams County may participate.

Said prospective subscriber and Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora),"After three years of work and conversation, Aurorans now have an opportunity to enter into a new dawn of community-owned solar.  Membership in a Community Solar Garden will not only help the environment by using a natural source of energy, but will save money for the subscriber." (In ancient Roman mythology, the goddess of the dawn was named “Aurora”.)

City of Aurora Environmental Programs Coordinator Karen Hancock said “The City of Aurora will do everything it can to assure a smooth process for this first of its kind project.”

Saguache (“sa-WATCH”) is a town of about 600 residents in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. While over 20% of the county’s residents live below the poverty line, the region is blessed by the state’s most abundant sunshine. Residents are excited about the economic potential of solar development and are concerned about preserving the area’s natural and historic character.

Says Esther Last, owner of Saguache’s 4th Street Diner (a potential subscriber), “It’s great to see a small town like Saguache able to participate in this program, even before some of the big cities.” (The next time you are in Saguache, be sure to try a slice of Esther’s pie!)

In 2008, a group of residents in the Town of Saguache formed the Saguache Alliance for Green Energy (SAGE) under the auspices of the nonprofit Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (ScSEED). The solar garden will be hosted at Mountain Valley Lumber just south of town.  Any Xcel Energy customers in Saguache, Chaffee, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Mineral, and Hinsdale counties may subscribe to Saguache Solar Garden One.


Solar Gardens Partners
SOLAR GARDENS INSTITUTE:  The Solar Gardens Institute is a Colorado nonprofit founded in 2010 with this mission: To educate and learn from the public about community solar energy; To promote good community energy policy at the federal, state, and local levels; To assist local organizations in organizing, developing, and managing community-owned solar energy projects everywhere; and To provide a way for everyone to own solar panels, making clean energy affordable and available for all humanity.
SOLAR POWER FINANCIAL:  Solar Power Financial is owned and managed by Barry Ruby who has been a real estate developer and investor for more than 45 years. Todd Stewart is a partner in SPF projects and is its business development director.

SPF is currently developing 5MW of PV Solar farms in Hawaii and an 800 kW PV system for a Colorado Charter School. On August 16th, SPF won Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards for two solar gardens totaling 1MW of a total 4.5MW program and is moving forward with developing both of these projects with its team members; Namasté Solar and the Solar Gardens Institute. SPF also is active in select markets that present development opportunities that meet and serve the needs of all of a project’s stakeholders.

NAMASTÉ SOLAR:  Namasté Solar is an employee-owned cooperative dedicated to bringing clean, reliable, and affordable renewable energy to homes, businesses, and nonprofits.  As the leading solar company in Colorado, with more in-state installations than any other company, Namasté Solar has installed more than 2,000 photovoltaic systems, totaling almost 20 megawatts, since its inception in 2005.  Its unique business model includes employee ownership, democratic decision-making, community collaboration, an innovative solar grant program, zero-waste initiatives, and holistic profit measurement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gone in 30 minutes - XCEL solar garden program

Three times as many applications as capacity available for XCEL's Solar*Rewards Community program. Community Shared Solar comes roaring in!



Xcel Energy faced a solar garden rush Wednesday morning when it opened its new program at 8 a.m. Within 30 minutes it had three times as many applications as it could fill.


Joy Hughes, founder of the Solar Garden Institute and the for-profit spin-off Solar Panel Hosting Co., said she had five applications in by 8:05 a.m.

"It was a hectic morning," Hughes said. Solar Panel Hosting is working with three other developers on projects in Jefferson, Boulder and Saguache counties and Fairplay and Aurora.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Solar Panels Seeing the Light in Community Solar Gardens | Ecopolitology

Great article from Ecopolitology on solar gardens (also called "community shared solar")!



Shading, ownership issues, limited space and many other factors means that most American households simply aren't suitable for solar panels. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that as much as three-quarters of residential buildings have physical restrictions to going solar.

However, in the last few years, new creative models such as "solar gardens" have started appearing all over the country, enabling those who otherwise were ineligible for solar, to participate in going green. What exactly is a community solar garden and how "big" will these become in the future?

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

Gold Rush! - Colorado's solar garden program opened 8am 8/15

Happy G-day!

XCEL Energy opened Solar*Rewards Community (solar gardens), the first competitve community shared solar program. Solar developers made a mad dash to get their money in to reserve their projects first. At "mission control" we assisted developers with community projects around the state.

Good luck to everyone! A new era in community solar history has begun. The Solar Gardens Institute is always willing to assist potential subscribers in solar gardens everywhere, community groups interested in solar garden development, and developers interested in community solar arrays.

All the best,


Friday, August 10, 2012

Making Projects Happen with Group Net Metering Policies | Renewable Energy World

Almost every state in the country has net metering laws on the books.

But only a few states allow a lesser-known policy that is critical for the expansion of distributed renewables, particularly community-scale solar — that's aggregate, virtual, or group net metering.  And there are a lot of good reasons to want to see its expansion...

Read more:

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

Sunday, August 5, 2012

PV Magazine: Tokelau: World’s first 100 percent photovoltaic territory

While photovoltaic generated electricity remains controversial politically in some parts of the world, for the territory of Tokelau, it will provide a cost-effective and environmentally sound solution for the entire territory in the coming months.

Tokelau comprises of three atolls in the South Pacific. Photovoltaic arrays have currently been installed to one island and the installation of another two photovoltaic systems will be complete by October. 4032 modules, 392 inverters and 1344 batteries will provide electricity supply for the island. The first system on the atoll Fakaofo will be switched on in two weeks.

Read more:

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

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Storage in California - GigaOm

California is moving ahead with what could be a precedent-setting mandate to require its utilities to invest in energy storage systems and services, which are meant to complement the growing amount of wind and solar electricity flowing into the grid.

California lawmakers passed a bill in late 2010 that fell short of requiring utilities to invest in energy storage but did  give the California Public Utilities Commission the task of looking into whether a mandate is a good idea and what that mandate should be. The commission on Thursday approved a proposal that identified 20 ways that electricity storage could benefit the grid and consumers. That decision then kicked off a new round of discussion that could eventually lead to an energy storage mandate and turn California into a prime market for many types of battery and other storage technologies.

Read more:

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Korea - World’s largest floating solar plant starts work

The world's largest solar plant on water went into operation on Tuesday, paving the way for the commercialization of a new solar energy provider, said Korea Water Resources Corp., or K-water.

The state-run water service company organized the three-year project in August 2008, and Korean industrial solutions firm LSIS undertook the plant construction in 2011 on Hapcheon Dam in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province.

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

Colorado Solar Gardens to launch August 15

That's right, folks, G-DAY is around the corner!

From XCEL Energy:

The Solar*Rewards Community Launch

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has issued its order addressing Applications for Rehearing Reargument and Reconsideration on our 2012 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) Compliance Plan. We have determined an official Solar*Rewards Community program launch date of August 15, 2012.

How to Apply

We will begin accepting applications at 8:00 AM MST on August 15, 2012. Subscriber Organizations will be able to access the online application form on our website. Click on "Submit an Application" under the "How to Apply" heading on the Subscriber Organization page.

Program Information

Information related to program capacity, application deposit and escrow requirements, as well as sample documents, FAQs and past program updates can be found on our website.
We look forward to working with you on this new, exciting program! If you have questions or comments, please direct them to

XCEL Solar*Rewards Community Website:*Rewards_Community_2_-_CO
Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Making New Jersey Brownfield Sites Into Solar Farms Could Create Jobs - The Huffington Post

Even in the mad-dash world of New Jersey real estate there is one kind of site no one will touch: a formerly toxic waste dump next to a prison.

But on Tuesday, a remediated 6-acre lot that was once home to a gas manufacturing plant was host to an unusual development. Gov. Chris Christie and officials from site owner Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) attended the groundbreaking of a new solar farm that should eventually provide enough power for more than 200 homes.

The Hackensack Solar Farm, as it's called...

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