Breckenridge OKs solar gardens |

Breckenridge OKs solar gardens

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The Town of Breckenridge has agreed to lease two properties, Stilson and McCain, to house community solar garden projects.

The terms of the leases, including pricing and length, have not yet been determined, town officials said.

But Breckenridge’s initial OK on the use of the parcels means the two proposed community solar gardens have cleared the biggest hurdle they’ve faced thus far: location.

“There is a lot of community support for something like this,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “We really feel like this is a really great opportunity. It goes along the lines of the whole SustainableBreck initiative, what we want to achieve and what the community has told us they want.”

Breckenridge and the county government have planned to buy into the projects as major subscribers from the beginning. As the project moves forward, the Town of Silverthorne has now also committed to buying into the garden, and Dillon is considering a purchase as well.

Breckenridge will submit a joint application with Summit County to Xcel Energy for a 500-kilowatt garden to be located at the Stilson property. The McCain property located north of town will become the site of a larger, 1- or 2-megawatt garden.

Both gardens will make solar available for individuals and businesses in the community to purchase. Over time, the clean energy is expected to shave down subscribers’ monthly energy bills until it pays for itself.

Though the gardens are still in the planning stages, they are already popular, with businesses, individuals and governments eager to buy in. But there will be solar kept available for community members to purchase, according to the High Country Conservation Center.

At the 500-kw garden planned for the Stilson property, 400 kw are already spoken for: Silverthorne and the county will purchase 100 kw each, and Breckenridge is in for 200 kw. But, at least 50 kw will be reserved for smaller subscribers.

“There’s a lot of interest,” said Lynne Greene of the High Country Conservation Center. “I’m hoping we’ll get a bunch of smaller interested parties. I’d like as many people as possible to be able to do it.”

Subscribers will be required to purchase at least one kilowatt of energy, which will likely cost $3,000 to $3,500. Solar garden owners may see a return on their initial investment within a few years of the purchase.

No one entity will be allowed to purchase more than 41 percent of the total garden, though Breckenridge officials said the town could make use of all of the energy that will be produced by the larger garden.