Community Solar and Solar Farms in Colorado: How to Go Solar if Home Solar isn't an Option

At Namasté Solar, our goal is to put extra cash in your pocket while helping you transition to cleaner energy that benefits the planet. The best way for you to save the most and to have the largest positive impact is to run your home off clean solar energy with a solar panel system of your own. However, if you want to help the environment for decades to come but outfitting your home with solar panels isn’t an option, we’re still here to help. Sometimes a home’s roof is just too shaded, or you might rent a home or apartment, or your townhome doesn’t allow solar panel installations. The good news is you can still benefit from solar energy and help the environment through community solar or solar farms in Colorado. In some cases, you can do it for little to no money out of pocket and lower your utility bill in the process.

How to Go Solar with Community Solar Programs

So how does community solar work? At the most basic level, you are buying electricity from a solar farm that offsets the less-green energy you use from your utility company. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though, so bear with us as we explain.

Here’s the deal: Even though many electric companies have begun investing in green energy, there’s no way to guarantee that the electricity you use in your home comes from any one particular source. Unless you have your own solar panels producing energy on your roof, you can’t buy only green energy from the utility. It would be like trying to go to the supermarket and buy a jug of milk sourced from one particular cow. It just doesn’t work that way.

So, community solar programs have figured out a workaround. You can’t buy clean energy for your own home, but you can contribute to pumping more clean energy into the system. You pay a subscription fee to a company that runs a solar farm, they produce energy that goes right back onto the grid, and then your electric company gives you a credit on your bill based on how much electricity you (meaning your share of the solar farm) produced.

It’s hard to say exactly how much money this may save you, because your savings are dependent on the amount of energy the solar farm produces. The best way to find out how well community solar programs may work for you is to call and talk to a sales representative and ask how much other customers in your position have been able to save. Community solar programs that operate in Colorado include SunShare, Arcadia Power, and GRID Alternatives, the later of which serves low- and fixed-income Colorado residents.

Build Your Own Solar Farm in Colorado

Just because you can’t put solar panels on your roof doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from them. Do you have a plot of land away from your main residence? Does someone else in your community have a piece of property they want to use to fight climate change? Put on your community organizer hat and get your neighbors together!

Just like a community garden benefits the whole neighborhood, community solar farms can provide or offset electricity for a large number of people. If you build it yourself on your own property, you may eventually be able to turn a significant profit selling that clean energy back to the grid.

Namasté Solar built a solar farm in Rutland, Massachusetts, for example, that benefits members of the town at every stage of the process: the owner of the solar panels makes money selling electricity to the grid and subscriptions to people who want clean energy; those individual residents save money on their electric bills (and gain good environmental karma for using the cleanest energy); the farmer who owns the property makes money leasing their land to the solar panel owner; and the town itself earns property tax from the system, which goes back into the community by funding local schools. And just last year, the Denver Housing Authority launched a $3.8 million community solar project with Namasté Solar as a partner. This project is intended to lower electric costs up to 20% for people in affordable housing programs – that’s making life more affordable and sustainable for these residents!

Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Say all the above sounds great but isn’t the right fit for you. Maybe you don’t have an electric bill, because your utilities are bundled up in the cost of your rent, or you’re a college student living in a dorm, or someone else in your household is in control of the bill. Or, maybe you’re a digital nomad without much of a home base.

If this sounds like you, you could consider buying into a program to offset your carbon footprint. These programs help you estimate how many pounds of carbon you’re responsible for releasing into the atmosphere based on what kind of car you drive and how often, where you live, and how frequently you fly and use public transportation. Then, they charge you a fee to “offset” that energy usage by funding programs that help clean up the planet. This may include funding clean energy projects, planting trees, or conserving land. The National Resources Defense Council has resources for helping you understand what makes a “good” offset and what’s less effective.

Make Solar Work for You

There’s no denying that clean energy is the future. We’re here to help you figure out what role you can play in helping create a more sustainable future and to answer any questions you may have. Installing solar panels on your home is the best way to capture the savings of solar and to guarantee that you’re using clean energy. But if it just isn’t an option, you do have other choices.

Reach out to us to talk through your options. Our home solar advisors don’t work on commission, so we’ll be honest with you. We’d never advise you to do something we wouldn’t recommend to our own friends and family. Request a free quote here.

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