Solar energy for affordable housing

March 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

On Tuesday the Telluride Town Council gave the go ahead for a proposed affordable housing solar program.

The program’s intention is to decrease the community’s carbon footprint, while at the same time decrease power bills for many who live in affordable housing. With the council’s direction the town, San Miguel Regional Housing Authority, Clean Energy Collective and San Miguel Power Association will start working on an agreement. If approved, the agreement would allow the town to start purchasing energy produced at the CEC’s Paradox Valley Community Solar Array for its affordable housing projects. The idea was originally proposed by a Telluride Housing Authority subcommittee as a way to help the town meet energy reduction goals.

Most of the council was in favor of the program except council member Thom Carnevale, who was against it for numerous reasons. He said the town has already contributed a lot of money to the solar farm with previous purchases (215 panels) and he was concerned about long term commitments with CEC.  

“I think what we need to be doing is building our own solar projects ourselves like the solar array at the wastewater plant,” Carnevale said. “I know it’s more expensive, but in this instance we’re really not getting the bang for the buck that we should be. The additional purchase of credits is now going to push the town’s contribution to CEC to over $500,000.”   

Through the CEC, the town would pay $693.25 per panel which comes to around $329,293 for 475 panels, according to town documents.

While Telluride would make the panel purchase, plans are to implement an opt-in process for residents who own deed-restricted units. Residents who want to get solar credits would sign the necessary paperwork to get the credit from SMPA. However, the solar panel would have to be tied to a particular apartment or residence instead of an SMPA account, according to town documents. In all, the town says about 20 percent of its residents live in affordable housing.   

The project covers two main housing categories: the Shandoka apartment complex and owner-occupied, affordable housing financed by the town such as Mendota, Gold Run and Entrada. The project will be funded through the town’s affordable housing fund with additional funds coming from the Shandoka capital reserve fund. At Shandoka, one panel per unit, or 278 panels, would be purchased. And credits for 197 panels would be purchased for other town deed-restricted housing units, assuming 100 percent participation from individual owners, according to town documents.

The energy from the Shandoka panels will be used to power its exterior lighting and common areas. 

Though the council gave the go ahead, many details will need to be finalized before any contracts or agreements are signed.  

The solar farm contains 4,784 photovoltaic panels, and around half had been sold as of mid January. The panels have been on sale since summer of 2012.

Any member of SMPA can purchase panels for up to 100 percent of their electrical usage. When a panel is purchased, the amount of electricity it generates is credited to the owner.


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