Venetucci Farm is pleased to be leasing 2.5 acres to local company SunShare for a community solar garden! Customers of Colorado Springs Utilities can lease panels in the solar garden to use sustainable energy and receive credits on their utility bill. Please see below for the full press release. If you’re interested in leasing solar panels, please contact SunShare at 719-225-1050, www.mysunshare.com, or lease@mysunshare.com.


Community Solar Garden Takes Root at Venetucci Farm


COLORADO SPRINGS – For decades, Venetucci Farm has been a focal point for community sharing in the richness of the earth’s treasures. Now, a new project located at the farm will allow the community to share in the richness of the sun’s treasure. Local residents can sign up now to participate in a community solar garden that will be installed, owned, and operated by SunShare, a local business, on 2.5 acres at Venetucci Farm.

“Encouraging respect for the earth, giving back to the community, and fostering local production of vital resources are all essential to the traditions at Venetucci Farm,” said Michael Hannigan, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which owns and operates Venetucci Farm. “Leasing a site for this project at Venetucci allows us to support this new initiative and, at the same time, generate some financial benefits in the form of solar electricity for the Farm that will help us protect and preserve it far into the future." 

SunShare, started by local resident and Colorado College graduate David Amster-Olszewski, is one of four developers who will be creating community solar gardens locally. The company will install 2,500 panels for community use in the solar garden at the Venetucci Farm. The panels are available for lease to all customers of Colorado Springs Utilities. “The community solar garden allows citizens to participate in solar, without the average $25,000 upfront cost of a set of panels on their own roof,” Amster-Olszewski noted. “Leasing two panels can reduce the average electric bill by ten percent.”

Colorado Springs Utilities will provide a monetary incentive, up to 30 percent of the investment, for customers that subscribe to a community solar garden. Utilities' budget for incentives is limited and available on a first-come first served basis. Subscribing customers will also receive a 9-cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) credit on their monthly electric bill for their share of the power generated at the community solar garden. “Colorado Springs Utilities is very excited to offer a tariff that will give customers new options for solar power,” said Jerry Forte, CEO for Colorado Springs Utilities.

The garden will be built in late 2011. A 20-year lease carries a one-time cost of $550 per panel after federal and utilities rebates, while available; a minimum of two panels must be leased.  More than 600 solar panels have already been reserved by local residents. Colorado Springs Utilities will automatically credit leaseholders’ monthly electric bills with the energy produced by their panels. The savings on electricity are expected to begin in January 2012.

This innovative program makes Colorado Springs one of the first in the nation to offer such a service to local residents. A ground-breaking and tour of the future community garden site will be scheduled for early November.

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