The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of School Planning & Management magazine.

Colorado School District First to Offset 100% Energy Use with Community Solar

Pueblo, Colo. – Clean Energy Collective (CEC), the nation’s leading community solar solutions provider, announced today that Pueblo County School District 70 (D70), the administrative arm of 34 schools in south central Colorado, has approved a contract securing 1.1 megawatts of solar capacity, or 11,456 solar PV panels, in two of CEC’s community solar arrays under development with Black Hills Energy. The move makes D70 the first school district in Colorado to offset 100 percent of its energy use for school facilities served by Black Hills Energy through community solar. The deal will net the district nearly $35,000 in savings in the first year, and more than $2 million in energy savings over the 20-year life of the program.

“As a public school district we are accountable to a high level of fiscally responsibility. Working with Clean Energy Collective we were able to meet that obligation by using community solar to reduce our energy costs and hedge against future energy price increases. But we can also do it in a way that helps us reach for higher environmental standards,” said D70 chief financial officer T.J. Vinci. “It’s exciting to be the first school district in the state to employ this strategy at this level, and I’m hopeful we are setting a positive example for the communities we serve and for other school districts.”

For D70, it was logistically challenging and cost prohibitive to build solar arrays at individual schools, with separate electric meters and a wide variety of roof types, age, and shading. Despite being the largest geographical school district in Colorado, with preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools serving 9,650 students, plus three transportation centers and an administrative building, D70 was able to consolidate its commitment into one community solar subscription, through CEC’s RooflessSolar program, with no upfront payment or recurring operations and maintenance costs and no changes to existing facilities.

“When this opportunity was presented to us by Black Hills Energy and Clean Energy Collective, we thought that this was the kind of example we should be setting as a board and as a district for our students and parents. This program is the perfect mix of economic responsibility and benefit blended with supporting sustainable and renewable energy sources,” said D70 school board chairman Ted Ortiviz.

“We are thrilled to see the Pueblo County School District participate in our Black Hills Energy community solar projects. Community solar is a superb solution for institutions like this seeking to reduce their utility costs, yet have limited ability to build individual systems onsite or don’t want the inherent maintenance hassles,” said Paul Spencer, CEC founder and CEO. “This speaks directly to the ‘community’ in community solar.”

The 1.1 MW allocation will generate an average of 2.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy per year, and more than 40 million kwh over 20 years.

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