EL JEBEL - A company that was founded in El Jebel and broke the mold on delivering solar power to residences and businesses has relocated its headquarters and most of its personnel to Boulder as part of its ongoing expansion.
Clean Energy Collective relocated its sales, marketing, finance and other staff to Boulder in January. Founder and President Paul Spencer, a Roaring Fork Valley native, will remain at the office in El Jebel, though he said he is spending most of his time in Boulder right now establishing the new facility.
The company has expanded from 11 employees, on Feb. 1, to 25 now, Spencer said.
Clean Energy created a community solar model geared for homeowners and businesses that either didn't want to install on-site renewable-energy systems or couldn't install them for a variety of reasons. The company builds medium-scale, locally situated facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. Instead of just buying power from the solar garden, participants buy a part of the project.
The model makes solar power available to people or businesses that rent space. They can move their solar credits with them if they change locations. They would otherwise be shut out of solar projects.
The company's first project was a small solar garden in El Jebel in 2010. Customers of Holy Cross Energy were able to buy a portion of the solar garden. Software tracks each customer's share of the production, and they get credited for that power by Holy Cross.
A key to working with utility companies was Clean Energy's development of the RemoteMeter system, which automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems. Utility companies know they won't have to invest in a system to give credit to the customers buying into the solar arrays.
Since the El Jebel project was completed, Clean Energy has installed 2.7 megawatts of community solar in Colorado. All of those projects have been partnerships with rural cooperative utilities. That includes an 858-kilowatt solar farm at the Garfield County Airport near Rifle. Ownership in that project is open to Holy Cross Energy customers. Once all the capacity is sold there, Clean Energy will look for a third project with Holy Cross, Spencer said.
All told, the company has 17 projects completed, under construction or in design in four states. Clean Energy completed a project in December in Taos, N.M., and projects in Minnesota and Vermont are under way.
Clean Energy broke ground Thursday on a different kind of project.
The Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array in Boulder County is the state's first solar garden through an investor-owned utility rather than a rural utility cooperative. The project is being built as part of Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards program. The Boulder project is the first of eight community-owned solar gardens Clean Energy is building through the Xcel Solar Rewards program, totaling 3.5 megawatts of distributed power generation to serve Colorado's customers in Boulder, Jefferson, Denver, Arapahoe and Summit counties and the city of Aurora.
The Xcel contracts helped make Clean Energy a national leader in community power generation.
Spencer expects the rapid growth of Clean Energy to continue. The company has sales representatives working in New York state, Florida and Los Angeles.
"We're talking to utilities from coast to coast," Spencer said.
More information on the company can be found at www.easycleanenergy.com.