Solar Energy International helps two rural Colorado communities kickstart solar development

Solar Energy International (SEI) is helping two Colorado communities kickstart solar markets through the Solar Forward Program in Q1 of 2021.

The Town of Nederland, located in Boulder County, and the entirety of Garfield County will implement holistic solar market development programs in their communities. Solar Forward provides the framework and materials for these programs, as well as a technical advisor to help community partners with implementation. The holistic approach includes tools to launch a solar bulk-purchase program, and access to free SEI solar workforce development and training.

Some of these materials include a toolkit to launch a ‘Solarize’ program, which is a community-driven group purchase program including partnered local installers and an incentivized timeline to go solar, and free scholarships to SEI classes for local contractors or community members looking to start, or join, a local solar installation business.

In Garfield County, Garfield Clean Energy plans to launch a county-wide Solarize program, with the help of Solar Forward technical assistance. Garfield Clean Energy is an independent local government authority that oversees programs and services that help residents, businesses and local governments become more energy efficient and reduce energy costs.

“Although Garfield County already has many homes, businesses, and government buildings with installed solar energy systems, we hope that Solarize’s bulk purchase model can increase solar adoption in areas where solar rebates are not being offered. Solar Forward’s toolkit has all the tools and resources needed to make Solarize possible in Garfield County,” Maisa Metcalf, director of Consumer Engagement for Clean Energy Economy for the Region, said.

In Nederland, the Town’s Sustainability Advisory Board leads the program efforts.

“Nederland has ambitious renewable energy goals and their partnership with SEI is a major step in reaching those targets. Transitioning to renewable energy is a cost-effective strategy that lowers Nederland’s carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. Nederland Solarize is expected to launch in March, 2021 with solar installations occurring in the summer months, 2021,” said Garrett McDaniel, the local Sustainability Coordinator of Nederland.

Both of these programs are sent to launch in Q1 of 2021, and Solar Forward will be announcing even more partnerships in Q2 and Q3 of this year.

“Both of these programs are coming in the wake of a globally tumultuous year,” said Solar Forward Program Manager Mary Marshall. “It’s amazing to see rural communities prioritize renewable energy as a resiliency resource during these unprecedented times. We believe that rural communities can lead the way in the fight against climate change. This program aims to bridge the sustainability resource gap between urban and rural regions.”

The Solar Forward program was born out of a prevalent problem in Western Colorado, and nationwide: As communities transition from coal-dependent economies, there is a need now more than ever to diversify local economies and build sustainable solutions for the future. Solar creates new local jobs, and locally-produced energy helps keep money in the communities that need it the most.

Solar Forward is accepting applications on a rolling basis. For more information, contact the Solar Forward Program Manager Mary Marshall at [email protected] or call 970-527-7657 extension 116.

News item from Solar Energy International