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CMC Rifle to host workshop on controlling costs with solar

Photo of solar array in Battlement Mesa Colorado.

A new 435-kilowatt solar array is powering the water treatment plant for the Battlement Mesa Metro District. The array was built with no up-front cost to the metro district by using a solar energy financing mechanism.

Libraries, schools, water plants and town halls in western Colorado are cutting their electrical energy costs by installing solar arrays. Two free workshops will explain how more governments and special districts can get started using solar to cut energy costs.

The “Control Your Energy Costs with Solar” workshops are being offered in Rifle and Grand Junction; staff and elected officials are invited to attend either one. The workshop includes a free lunch.

The workshop will also cover utility incentives available from Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy and Delta Montrose Electric, plus financing options available in each utility’s service territory.

The Rifle workshop is set for 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at Colorado Mountain College, 3695 Airport Road. Register online by Sept. 22 at control-your-costs-Rifle.eventbrite.com.

The Grand Junction workshop is set for 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Alpine Bank Community Room, 225 N. Fifth St. Register online by Sept. 22 at control-your-costs-GJ.eventbrite.com.

The workshop is sponsored by Garfield Clean Energy, Sunsense Solar, CLEER, Alpine Bank, Colorado Mountain College, Conservation Colorado and Western Colorado Congress.

Katharine Rushton, who handles commercial sales for Sunsense Solar of Carbondale, will explain how large solar arrays are built to match the energy needs of each building or facility. She will explain various financing mechanisms and their effect on electric bills.

“There’s an advantage to installing solar in the coming year,” Rushton said. “At the end of 2016, the 30 percent federal tax credit will drop to 10 percent, and Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program also ends.”

The tax credit and utility incentives make it possible for third-party businesses to finance the arrays, reducing up-front costs for the site host.

Frank Watt, public works director for the town of Palisade, will share his experience with solar installations from the customer standpoint.

Matt Shmigelsky, an energy consultant with CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region, will show how local governments in Garfield County are tracking solar production on the Building Energy Navigator website, and explain what’s involved in connecting an array to the Navigator.