Less than five companies are vying for a chance to build additional community solar gardens in Colorado Springs. Applications were due Oct.1.
The solar companies bid to provide up to 2 megawatts of solar energy to the city’s electric grid. One or more companies could win bids, said John Romero, Colorado Springs Utilities general manager of energy services.
The company names and the exact number of applicants were not released by Colorado Springs Utilities.
When the community solar garden expansion program first was announced 10 companies attended a mandatory meeting to learn more about the contracts. But Colorado Springs City Council, which doubles as the board of directors for Colorado Springs Utilities, outlined stict qualifications for the program, including that a company had to have a proven track record in the buddging industry.
In August, city council voted to expand the community solar garden program. Councilors wanted to ensure there was competition among the solar companies. The winning company or companies must have designed, constructed, maintained and operated a community solar garden program of at least .5 megawatts.
The winning solar company must be able to attract customers, have financial capability to make the expansion and must support the budding solar industry.
Colorado Springs is among the first in the nation to operate a community solar gardens – a program that allows customers to receive a credit on their electric bill for the energy their solar panels put back into the city’s grid. The city launched its community solar garden pilot program in September 2011. Under the program, utility users can buy solar panels in solar gardens and transfer energy into the electric system. About 400 households subscribe to the program.
Utilities engineers and finance officers will review the applications for the solar garden expansion and hope to award the contract or contracts by Oct. 14. The goal is to have the expanded community solar garden up and running within a year, Romero said.