Chatting With Paul Spencer, President and Founder of Clean Energy Collective, On Community Solar Garden


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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I have a real treat on community solar garden for you all today, for there will be view of the beautiful Colorado Rockies and the site/sight of an unused land becoming useful through the generation of solar energy.

This interview was conducted on July 16, 2013, with Paul Spencer, the President of Clean Energy Collective, at Boulder County Cowdery Meadows Solar Array (1600 S. 66th St., not far from Denver), the first Community Solar Garden in Xcel Energy’s Colorado service area.

Paul Spencer, President & Founder of Clean Energy Collective, at Boulder County Cowdery Meadows 500 KW Solar Arrays, the first Community Solar Garden in Xcel Energy’s Colorado service area (photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

This 500-kilowatt Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array is located in the unincorporated Boulder County adjacent to an Xcel station just outside Superior, serving about 100 residential, commercial, and non-profit users. The program Solar Rewards Community program by Xcel, allows people who otherwise would not be able to optimally participate in solar (because they are renters, or owners of properties without optimal orientation to receive direct sunlight) to access PV power and rebates.The program was introduced in the House Bill 10-1342 in 2010 by Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), and signed into law in June of 2010 by former Governor Bill Ritter.

Below, you will see the video portion of this interview:

This first Community Solar Garden under the solar Xcel program, Cowdery Meadows array, was installed through Clean Energy Collective (previously based in Carbondale and now in Boulder). Clean Energy Collective has been responsible for installing multiple arrays throughout Xcel’s service area. Under this program, any Xcel customer can purchase solar panels in the shared array and receive credits directly on the Xcel electricity bill for the power produced.

Clean Energy Collective contact info at Cowdery Meadows Community Solar Garden (photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

Renewable/Solar Energy produced by creatively utilizing landfill site (inverter  at left) is a perfect example of thinking outside of the box by leadership such as Paul Spencer (photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)











In the first round, when Xcel opened up the process to accept applications for developers wanting to build the solar gardens in August of 2012, it received proposals to build three times the allowed capacity within 30 minutes. Xcel ended up accepting 10 applications on a first-come, first-served basis for projects totaling 4.5 MW, with projects ranging from 108 KW to 500 KW of generating capacity. In 2012, during the second round, another 4.5 MW targeting proposals between 501 KW and 2 MW and three applicants in that second round were approved. The utility will open bidding again this August for another 9 MW of solar generation, broken into two rounds (first round will be for proposals up to 500 KW, the second round will target those ranging from 500 KW to 2 MW). The Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array, with approximately 500 KW, is large enough to service about 100 average sized homes, with 5% of the capacity serving low-income families, benefiting 10 to 15 low-income families in the city of Boulder.

Clean Energy Collective, Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array, Tian Tower (Photographer), 2013

Clean Energy Collective Cowdery Meadows Community Solar Garden (credit: Clean Energy Collective, Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array, Tian Tower (photographer), 2013










We were very fortunate to have Paul Spencer, the President of CEC (Clean Energy Collective) with us, sharing various aspects of the Cowdery Meadows Community Solar Garden: from the fact that it is built on an old Boulder landfill site (otherwise an under-utilized area), to how Clean Energy Collective services its investors 24/7.  The CEC provides its cooperatives with “RemoteMeter” software that

Methane Burner of the landfill across the street from Boulder Cowdery Meadows Community Solar Garden…a great way to generate Solar Energy from under-utilized site (photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

calculates production and monthly credits for participants (and includes a smartphone app), provides approximately 7% rate of return,  and continues to grow from its home state in Colorado to four states at the moment (and will continue to branch into other states), all accomplished through the community solar garden concept and policy. Furthermore, Paul Spencer points out that community solar gardens may be implemented in states without the community solar garden legislations (more easily in municipalities and cooperatives than investor-owned utilities). But as more information and data are coming forward (such as that of IREC’s Community Solar Guidelinesat & SEPA’s report at, it becomes quite evident that investing in solar is not only the right thing to do from the perspective of saving our planet, but it also makes perfect economic sense. As the solar industry continues to expand, Paul Spencer reminds us that Feed-In-Tariff will be more feasible than net metering for all parties (solar power generators and utilities) involved.

As Sun Is The Future continues to report on Solar Energy, it is evident that it is due to the creativity and ability of leaders such as Paul Spencer to look for solutions outside of the box that enables solar industry to grow exponentially and to reach all sectors of our society. It is no wonder that U.S. Department of Energy has recognized the Clean Energy Collective “…for expanding the market for electricity produced from renewable energy sources during the 11th annual Green Power Leadership Awards in San Francisco, California“.

For additional information on security law & tax credit, please also refer to podcast with Paul Spencer & ILSR‘s John Farrell

To learn more about Clean Energy Collective, please refer to:

To learn more about community solar, please also refer to: ,

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments and suggestions will be welcomed at


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