Posts Tagged ‘CEC’

1 August

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


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

(Please click on red links below)

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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15 September

More Sunshine For Every One-Answered By Paul Spencer of Clean Energy Collective


Greetings, Dear Freinds, Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

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Great News! On the last day of the SPI (Solar Power International) 2012, I actually reached a Eureka moment while interviewing Mr. Paul Spencer, President and Founder of CEC, Clean Energy Collective. Periodically, I’ve received emails from those of you who also want to participate in solar yet may be living in apartment complexes, condos, within strict homeowner association rules,  in a house with more shaded orientations, or uncertain of the future location, your questions will be answered by today’s post/interview.

Through a progression of events, from an electrical engineering background, to building software companies and  an off-grid home,  then expanding into building community home projects (from which Mr. Spencer had the opportunity to work with the CO utility company in dealing with some heavily shaded homes in a net metering community), he came to realize that since only about 15% of electrical customers in U.S. can put solar on their homes directly, the true solution to making a dent in the renewable energy world would require a more pervasive and fractional/part ownership of solar, based on partnership. Below, Mr. Spencer will explain how CEC accomplishes this in the interview:

Eureka! The light bulb went on for me! To truly solve our energy problem, having significant amount of our power coming from renewable energy source, we all need to be in partnership, be it utility companies with individual home owners/renters, be it developed nations with developing nations, be it manufactures  with distributors, interdependent and cooperative partnership is crucial in our transitioning into the renewable energy age. Out of this realization Clean Energy Collective (CEC) was born, started in Carbondale, CO and now in three states (CO, NM, MN) and will continue its expansion.  The CEC set up does not only respond to the concern toward variability from distributed power (small users) by utility companies, but also assists individuals who want to participate in solar (but cannot due to different reasons mentioned in the above paragraph) to overcome much hurdles and  insures that solar panels will continue to be maintained properly by experienced solar professionals .  Furthermore, CEC is the perfect solution that addresses  all concerns/obstacles toward Feed-In-Tariff  incentive policy.  To truly transition into renewable energy age, we need to see far more than just the 15% electrical customers to participate in solar.  We need to cover as many rooftops, as much of the surface areas available, with solar installations. CEC (Clean Energy Collective), partnered with FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) will enable us to spread the sunshine multi-fold!  This would also help consumers to reduce the amount of paperwork or legal maze individual consumers would have to deal with because the collective organizations would handle initial legal agreement with the utility company or later daily maintenance issues.

In an ideal world, with more participation, eventually utility companies will also be able to function as power storage for the solar power that people generate through their collective panels.  FIT (Feed-In-Tariff), implemented properly and effectively, will help to provide consumers with incentive to remain connected to the grid because they will be able to gain/produce/earn/benefit from the connection.  With Sun being part of my name, I have a particular fondness for the solar industry of all renewables, in addition to the fact that it is the cleanest, safest, and least likely to instigate war among nations. The way to insure solar industry’s position in the future is continued drop in cost through massive implementations, requiring incentive.  This would also increase job creations and economic growth.  Another mechanism, PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) is presented at Solar Power International 2012. But FIT is a more inclusive and more effective mechanism than PPA because FIT provides a clearly defined feed-in rate,  applicable to all users (small as well as medium) without need to negotiate for each contract.  As long as there is need to negotiate the rate for each contract, there may be a wide range of variability in rates even within the same district, translating into potential fairness issue or sellers (solar generators) being at the mercy of buyers (utility companies).  So, I was really happy to have learned about CEC (Clean Energy Collective), potentially solving the difficulty in variability FIT may have originally presented to utility companies.  CEC, combined with FIT, does appear to provide the path that will  maximize the possibility of our future expansion in solar energy use. Thank you, Mr. Spencer, for helping to shed the light and providing us with this workable solution, very succinctly presented. With CEC, I will look forward to more sunshine for every one in the future.

*I should qualify that any/all editorial remark(s) regarding Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) in this post were by yours truly, sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker alone. Mr. Spencer only concentrated on presenting Clean Energy Collective. I felt the need to make this clear because I distinctly got the feeling that FIT is a topic that should only be whispered in one’s ear and not a favored subject for discussion during SPI2012. I certainly do not want Mr. Spencer get in trouble on my account. This is all quite perplexing to me, for FIT had been an overwhelmingly accepted incentive policy in many other countries and had proven to be successful in creating jobs and bringing local economic prosperity (for any region that had effectively implemented it). FIT, effectively implemented, may potentially increase the longevity/need of utility companies and vast growth of solar implementations. Then why only whisper FIT? It should be discussed and welcomed! It should be shouted out loud! THIS/(FIT) MAY POTENTIALLY BE THE POLICY THAT WILL INSURE THE VIABILITY/LONGEVITY FOR UTILITY COMPANIES, providing incentive for people to remain connected to the grid.

~have a bright and sunny day~

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


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