After owning a rooftop solar system on a previous home, Brendan Miller wanted to own another system—though he and his wife Robin now live in a Denver condo. Community-owned solar offered the perfect solution. Ideal for homes that are unsuitable for solar—whether they’re governed by HOA regulations, shaded by trees or have rooftops facing the wrong direction—community solar makes clean energy accessible to anyone with an electric bill.
Brendan discovered Clean Energy Collective, the first community solar developer to build a solar garden in Denver County. Living in Xcel Energy’s service territory, the Millers qualified to participate in the Denver/Lowry Community Solar Array. They purchased a 2.75 kilowatt (kW) system, comprised of 11 solar electric panels to offset 96% of the couple’s energy usage.
“I found [community solar] quite simple to participate in, which overcomes what I see as one of the biggest hurdles for solar today,” Brendan said. “For end users, solar has become very cost competitive with traditional power but still requires some effort on the part of individuals to set up.”
The Millers agreed that owning panels in a community array was their best option. “I initiated the idea and she was quickly on board,” Brendan said. “It was a joint decision to spend the money and how to finance it—ultimately deciding to pay out of pocket.” The Denver couple expects to save around $12,000 over the lifespan of their solar system. With the money saved, the Millers hope to reach their savings goals and retire a little bit sooner.
CEC estimates the couple’s system will have the following environmental impacts:
Brendan’s favorite part about participating in community-owned solar: “The ability to make my life a bit more sustainable while still [making] a good financial decision.” To those considering whether to buy a rooftop system or purchase panels in a community solar array, Brendan offers the following advice:
“Having owed panels both ways, I think it’s important to communicate the costs and benefits of each approach, as everyone’s’ situation varies. On paper, and with some effort to clean, maintain and sell credits, buying panels for the roof may be the best choice. But solar gardens offer the most hands-off, simplest approach as a full-service package. I have recommended community solar as an option to friends because I feel like solar is a good investment—and community solar makes it easy to do.”