GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit installer of solar energy systems, has teamed up with Grand Valley Power of Grand Junction, Colorado to create a community solar installation  dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of low income families, reports Solar Power World. The 25 kilowatt  array will provide clean, renewable power for 6 – 10 families in the Grand Junction area and offset as much as 90% of their electricity costs.

GRID Alternatives will partner with Grand Valley Power to build a community solar farm for low income families in Colorado.“We have seen a tremendous groundswell of hard-working families wanting solar and the benefits it brings,” says Chuck Watkins, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Colorado. “Community solar can provide solar to all Coloradans regardless if they’re renters or homeowners. We’d like to see this replicated all over Colorado.”

Grand Valley Power is a locally owned utility. Among its contributions to the partnership will be land, interconnections and philanthropic support to the project. This is the first time in the US that a non-profit installer and an utility have worked directly together to bring solar power to qualifying families. The utility will own the solar equipment and provide retail bill credit for participating low-income households.

The partners see this as a model that can be duplicated by municipal and cooperative utilities throughout Colorado. “This model makes sense. We can make clean energy available to folks who have never had access to it. Everybody benefits. By leveraging GRID Alternatives’ expertise in solar development and working with lower income families, we can successfully serve some of our most vulnerable members,” stated Tom Walch, General Manager of Grand Valley Power.

Work on the project begins today, March 27 and is scheduled to be complete in time for GRID Alternatives Colorado’s Community Solarthon event on May 30, 2015. The project brings together over 100 stakeholders, including Housing Resources of Western Colorado, Atlasta Solar and Alpine Bank. It also is the beneficiary of major equipment donations from national partners SunEdison, Enphase Energy and IronRidge. When completed, it will establish GRID Alternatives, Grand Valley Power  and Colorado as trailblazers in access to renewable energy.

Photo credit: GRID Alternatives