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Cooperative Solar Farm

Customers interested in harvesting the sun's energy, can now participate in a unique program available only to United Power members--the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm. The Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm is located on United Power’s property in Brighton, and members can lease solar panels for a 25 year period and receive credit for all the power generated by their panel.

One of the major advantages of the program is that United Power will maintain the solar farm – the customer only pays for the cost of the panel – which is a $1,050 investment per 210 watt panel. It is anticipated that one 210 watt panel will produce about a 3% return on its investment or approximately $32 per year in electricity credits.

Program Details

  • 25 year lease contract
  • $1,050 investment per 210 watt panel
  • Panels are located on United Power's property
  • Receive a credit on your electric bill for the energy generated by your panel(s)
  • Monitor the farm's production at anytime from the comfort of your home by clicking on Sol Partners Live!

The program is ideal for:

  • customers whose homes are not properly sited for solar installations;
  • for those who rent their homes or office spaces;
  • or anyone who would like to purchase solar panels but can’t afford the large investment to install on-site.

Benefits of the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm:

  • United Power will assume all the cost for construction, maintenance, insurance and permitting.
  • If you move within United Power’s service territory, you still receive the benefits of your solar panels.
  • Allows more people at all income levels to participate in solar energy options.
  • The program is self-sustaining and perpetuated by only the members interested in investing in solar technology.

The Governor’s Energy Office at the State of Colorado provided seed money to help United Power develop the project. The solar farm was energized on May 15th and officially launched on May 27th. A second module was added in August of 2010. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions


Founder's Club

As a thank you to the United Power members who who leased in the initial module of 48 panels and helped  launch Sol Partners to success, the cooperative recognizes them  in our exclusive Founder’s Club. Founder’s Club members received a limited edition framed print called Sunspot, by artist Dan Earle. The original is on display at United Power's headquarters office, along with the names of all our initial investors.

Founder's Club Members 

Violet Aandres & Rich Deubel
Katherine Channaux
Don & Dorothy Cummins
James & Rita DeLisi
Scott & Melinda Delmonico
Cal Fullenwider
Allen & Katherine Heitschmidt
Donald & Joyce Herod
Richard & Senator Mary Hodge
Gary Howard
Lois B. Lesser
Dennis Mathistad
Brian & Jill McCormick
Meadowlark Montessori School
Rick & Casey Newman
Daniel & Dorothy Oberhausen
David & Susan Petrocco
Manuel & Representative Judy Solano
State of Colorado
Governor’s Energy Office
United Power 2008/2009
Board of Directors
Representative Glenn & Mollie Vaad


How much does it cost to become a Sol Partner?

You can become a Sol Partner for as little as $1,050—the cost to lease one 210 watt panel for 25 years. Customers are limited to just two panels in the initial module of the project, but will be able to sign up for as many panels as they wish once the initial module of 48 panels has been fully reserved. If you sign up in the initial module, you will be part of the exclusive Founder's Club and receive special benefits.

Will one panel cover my whole electric bill?

One 210 watt solar panel produces approximately 25-30 kilowatt-hours per month. The average residential customer uses an average of 600 kilowatt-hours per month. In order to cover all of your electric usage, you would need to invest in 20-25 solar panels—the number of panels typically installed on an individual residence. Use our interactive Solar Calculator to determine how many panels it would take to off-set your energy use with renewable, solar energy.

One benefit to becoming a Sol Partner is that you don’t have to come up with the entire investment up front to cover 20-25 panels. Your household could set a goal to cover all of your electricity needs with solar energy over the next five years and invest in a few panels each year as your budget allows.

The best way to reduce the number of panels you would need to cover your electric bill is to use energy as efficiently as possible. Please look into our tips to save energy to help you lower your current electric bill. After all, the cheapest, most environmentally friendly energy is the energy we never use!

Will my meter spin backwards?

Because the panels will be installed on United Power’s property, your meter will not spin backwards. You will be billed for your normal electric usage and then receive a credit on your monthly statement for the energy generated by your panels from the previous month.

How long will it take to pay back my investment in the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm?

It is anticipated that one 210 watt panel will produce about a 3% return on its investment or approximately $32 per year in electricity credits. Since the solar farm will be built to maximize electric production it is assumed that this panel would produce at least as much if not more than a similar panel located on a customer’s home.Considering a 5% escalation in future electric rates and the performance of the system, the payback could be realized within 20-25 years.

Solar seems expensive and doesn’t appear to have a very good payback. I thought the energy from the sun was free.

The energy from the sun is free, but the cost of equipment used to convert that free energy into usable electric energy is still very expensive. While the cost of solar equipment has come down over the last 10 years, it still represents one of the most expensive ways to produce electricity.

If a quicker payback is important to you, we suggest looking into a number of energy efficiency measures that have a more immediate payback and effectively reduce your overall energy use. Generating renewable energy and using energy more efficiently are both excellent ways to help protect the environment.

Investing in solar energy is a great next step for customers who have implemented a number of energy efficiency measures. Plus, when you use less energy, your renewable investment goes a lot further.

Will I save by signing up for a panel on the farm versus installing it at my home?

Typically a totally installed solar system on a home costs around $8/watt before any rebates or tax credits. United Power members can lease a panel on the solar farm for $5/watt or a 37% reduction from a home installed system.

Are there any additional benefits to leasing a panel on the solar farm versus installing it on my house?

There are a number of items that the Sol Partners program can offer that can’t be duplicated with a traditional solar installation.

  • No insurance, maintenance or installation issues. Just sign up for a panel and United Power handles the rest. You get the benefit of the electricity produced by the panel just like it was on your home.
  • You can transfer these credits to a new location or sell them to another person.
  • Today only homeowners with proper solar orientation and no shading issues can take advantage of a traditional solar rebate program. The solar farm allows anyone within our service territory to participate in renewable energy, including renters or homeowners with poor solar orientation.
  • This program is a grow-as-you-go type of program. Many people don’t have the $15,000–25,000 to purchase a total system for their home. Sol Partners allows you to sign up for panels as you have the money to invest. On average, it requires 20 panels to offset 100% of the electric usage at your home. Your family could decide to sign up for additional panels as your budget allows and set a goal to achieve a complete offset of your utility bill within the next five years.

Can I still put solar panels on my house if I become a Sol Partner?

Yes. United Power's Solar Rebates are a separate program from the Cooperative Solar Farm and customers can participate in both programs. Sol Partners simply offers customers who can’t participate in solar rebate programs with another option. Customers who rent or whose homes don’t have proper solar orientation or shading issues can now support renewable generation through the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm. Customers who want to install solar equipment directly on their homes can still do so based on the net-metering requirements, available utility rebates and federal tax credits.

What if I move? Can I take my panels with me?

When you become a Sol Partner, you will receive the energy credits from your solar panels—no matter where you live within United Power’s service territory.

The electric production from your leased panel(s) must be tied to a specific location within United Power's service territory, so if you move outside of the service territory, you must transfer your panels to another United Power customer. This can be done by leaving the solar credits at the current location, transferring them to a new location or donating the energy from the panel to another customer or organization. United Power will not buy panels back from Sol Partners participants.

When you move, you cannot take your actual panels with you since you technically lease the output of the panels and don’t purchase the actual panel. Individual solar panels installed in the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm are an integral part of the entire system and cannot be removed.

Isn’t the Solar Farm just like purchasing Green Power or renewable energy credits?

When you purchase green power through our Green Power Partners program, or another renewable energy credits program, you pay a surcharge for energy generated by a renewable source. You get the peace of mind knowing you are supporting additional renewable energy generation and often pay a fee above and beyond your regular electric bill. When you lease a panel on the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm, you get peace of mind for supporting renewable energy and you receive a credit on your electric bill for the energy your panel generates.

Is the equipment installed on the Solar Farm the same equipment I’d put on my house?

Yes. The solar panels used for the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm are exactly what you would install on your house. You save with the Solar Farm because United Power will cover the costs of installation, insurance and maintenance, which can be the largest expense of installing on your property. In addition, the location of the Solar Farm is well suited for solar generation with no shading issues. Often trees or neighboring buildings can diminish the performance of solar panels installed on your residence or business.

Why doesn’t United Power just give large rebates to consumers to install systems on their homes?

Since 2008, United Power has offered direct rebates to customers who install systems on their homes. This program has limited money and the funds quickly run out.To provide an on-going source of rebate funds, profit-driven utilities typically charge a 1-2% surcharge to all of their customers.United Power is a non-profit utility and does not have a mechanism to add a surcharge for these programs.The solar farm is funded solely by our members interested in solar without requiring other ratepayers to subsidize their investment.

How can I monitor the output of my panels?

Use the Sol Partners Live! online feature to monitor the production of your actual panels at any time via the internet.

Does the Sol Partners program qualify for Federal Tax incentives?

As tax incentives change and are contingent on certain income requirements, please consult your tax advisor to see if your participation in the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm qualifies for federal tax incentives.

How do I sign up?

Download a contract here. United Power began accepting applications on April 1, 2009. Full payment and signed contract are required to reserve your panels.

Who do I contact for more information?

For additional information, or to sign up, please contact
Jerry Marizza at 303-637-1250 or by e-mail.

 


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