DENVER, April 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, NRG Renew and SunShare were joined by Governor John Hickenlooper, project partners, and community members to celebrate the bright future of renewable energy in the state of Colorado. While the Governor spoke, hundreds of enthusiastic school children and other project supporters in attendance tossed beach balls in celebration of the completed solar installation.
"Colorado continues to embrace solar energy, having been the first state in the nation to pass a Community Solar Gardens act that allows residents, communities and businesses access to solar energy," said Governor John Hickenlooper. "This solar garden represents everything that was intended: innovation, small business growth and community, leading the way to a sustainable future."
At the event, project owners NRG Renew and SunShare commemorated the visual completion of the Denver Community Solar Garden, which is the first of five planned solar projects throughout Colorado's largest counties. The remaining four projects are currently under construction and will be completed later this summer. Hundreds of residents, commercial businesses and municipalities have already signed up to participate. At full capacity, the combined 8.2 megawatt (MWac) Community Solar portfolio is expected to generate approximately 350 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over 20 years, which is enough to power 1,600 typical U.S. homes and avoid more than 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide and is equivalent to removing more than 50,000 vehicles from the road.
"The goal of Community Solar is to make solar energy accessible to everyone, and these projects are a step in the right direction in realizing that goal," said Craig Cornelius, NRG Renew's senior vice president of development. "NRG Renew and SunShare are responding to the increasing consumer demand for energy choice and flexibility, and we are honored the Governor was here today to support these initiatives in Colorado.
"I am moved to see so many people here supporting community solar energy," said David Amster-Olszewski, founder and CEO of SunShare. "Our vision at SunShare is to make solar energy truly accessible to anyone, everywhere. Colorado's leadership in creating Community Solar programs and partnerships with powerhouses like NRG Renew allows us to take a large step toward making that vision a reality."
Community Solar Gardens let customers who either can't or don't want to put solar panels on their homes buy solar energy from a solar array located elsewhere in the community. Electricity generated by the solar gardens will be fed into the main power grid. Through this innovative arrangement, NRG Renew will build, finance and operate the projects while SunShare will offer customers the option to purchase a specific amount of energy from the solar gardens and receive a credit on their Xcel Energy bill for that amount.