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Boulder County staking its place in Jack's Solar Garden

 

November 13, 2019 | View PDF



Boulder County has committed to be the biggest subscriber to date in Jack's Solar Garden. As of Nov. 5, the county commissioners pledged to be a holder of 10% of the 1.2 megawatts solar array, equalling a $376,000 investment. Jack's will be the first and only solar garden in the county and the largest commercial agrivoltaic system in the U.S.

Jack's Solar Garden founder Byron Kominek said, "Having the confidence of Boulder County in becoming an anchor tenant and having them fully appreciate the social and environmental benefits we intend to provide to our community is a great help."

Boulder County's Office of Sustainability, Climate, and Resilience began working with Jack's Solar Garden as part of its effort to achieve the goal of 100% electricity from renewable sources. In November 2018, the Boulder County Land Use Code was revamped to allow community solar gardens on lands of National and State Agricultural Significance. This designation comprises the majority of non-urban county land.

On June 13, 2019, Boulder County Commissioners unanimously gave their approval for Kominek to commence with plans to build the county's first of its kind co-mingling of solar power and agriculture (dubbed an agrivoltaic system) and by buying into the project, they're now backing it with an even more powerful commitment.

"Boulder County sees Jack's Solar Garden as the kind of business that exemplifies the innovative, environmental, and social spirit of Boulder County, and we are thrilled to be a part of its launch," said Susie Strife, Boulder County's Sustainability Coordinator.

The solar garden will be located on Kominek's family farmland at 8102 North 95th Street in south Longmont. Construction of the project is scheduled to begin by June 2020.

Jack's Solar Garden is a participant in Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community program allowing the solar garden to provide electricity subscriptions to residents, businesses, and government entities. Customers on the Xcel Energy grid who become subscribers receive offset credits on their electric bills.

The majority of the 3,000 -panel, five-acre grid is still open to additional subscribers, with some individual residential subscribers already bought in, according to Kominek.

Aside from the benefit of renewable energy being generated, Jack's is also partnering with the National Renewable Energy Lab, University of Arizona, and Colorado State University to research what types of crops grow best under and next to the solar array and to study pollinator habitats in the scenario. The Audubon Society of the Rockies is establishing their largest bird habitat in Colorado around the border of the solar array.

Kominek has been actively educating the public and other entities about Jack's Solar Garden. Earlier this month, along with other leaders in the Colorado energy industry, he spoke to the Energy Legislation Review Interim Study Committee which included Senator Mike Foote and Representatives Sonya Lewis and Chris Hansen, at the state capital.

"I hope Boulder County's decision to join us emboldens other government entities, companies, and residents to sign up for our subscriptions as well," Kominek said.

To learn about becoming a subscriber to Jack's Solar Garden and upcoming events including free tours, visit http://www.JacksSolarGarden.com.

 

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