News | August 14, 2013

Yampa Valley Electric Association Inks Power Purchase Agreement For Community-Owned Solar

Deal delivers new option for renewable energy to electricity ratepayers in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.

Boulder, CO - Renewable energy in Colorado is taking another leap forward with a new power purchase agreement between community-owned solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and the Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA) – launching YVEA Community Solar. The agreement brings the highly popular community solar model to northern Colorado and supports YVEA's quest to meet Colorado's newly adopted renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for rural electric cooperatives.

The agreement allows YVEA, a customer-owned rural electric cooperative serving more than 26,000 members in northwestern Colorado, to buy 500 kW of renewable energy from CEC's newest array to be built in Craig, Colo. Individual YVEA customers can then purchase solar panels in the shared array and receive credit for the energy produced directly on their monthly utility bill. The credit rate being offered by YVEA on participating member bills is significantly higher than the retail electric rate that members pay, making the program very advantageous for it members to embrace solar.

YVEA's commitment to purchasing the power from CEC's community-owned array illustrates their expanding pledge to renewable energy and providing for the energy needs of its members. "This initiative is a very practical and economical way for us to add local renewable power to our energy mix as required by SB 252," said YVEA General Manager Diane Johnson.

CEC expects the 500 kW, approximately 2,100-panel array to serve upwards of 200 residential and commercial customers. YVEA ratepayers can buy in with as few as one panel, at an anticipated cost of $646.25 per panel, or purchase as many as needed to fully offset the electricity needs of their home or business. This rate reflects CEC's YVEA member pre-construction rebate of $.50 per Watt, or a savings of $117.50 per panel. For the first time, this will enable all YVEA members to own affordable solar and receive a strong payback on their purchase, estimated in excess of 5% per year, which is several times larger than traditional bank-based paybacks – all while helping the environment.

YVEA's 7,000 square mile service territory includes the communities of Craig, Hayden, Steamboat Springs, and Yampa, Colo., as well as Baggs and Savery, Wyo. YVEA joins five other Colorado utilities in providing renewable energy through community-owned solar.

Although a final site hasn't been identified to date, it is common for CEC to work with local communities to utilize land that is otherwise unproductive, or work with private land owners or local government entities eager to participate who want to leave a legacy of environmental stewardship.

CEC has proved that the community-owned, distributed energy model works. "Our arrays are built with industrial grade materials, include installation and maintenance ensuring a long lifespan, and our program structure allows members to receive all of the tax incentives of home-sited systems", explains CEC president and founder Paul Spencer. "We are honored to be YVEA's partner in their community solar program. The community solar credit rate being offered by YVEA to participating members illustrates their strong commitment to renewable energy, their members and making YVEA Community Solar a great success."

In 2010, CEC established the first community-owned solar array in the country near El Jebel, Colo. Today, CEC operates nine community solar facilities in Colorado, New Mexico, and Minnesota, generating 3.8 MW of clean power, spanning more than half of all utility customers in the state of Colorado. CEC also has an additional 15 facilities under construction or approved for development, representing more than 6 MW of distributed renewable energy.

SOURCE: Clean Energy Collective