DEL NORTE— On June 14, Rio Grande County Commissioners listened to a brief presentation from Mike Malone with a company called Clean Energy. Malone opened his presentation with an explanation of why he was there and what his company had to offer the county. Malone explained that his company is working with Xcel Energy to build a solar farm in Costilla County and is using the stored energy to offer discounted rates to surrounding communities.
According to information provided by Malone, “Clean Energy Collective’s (CEC) RooflessSolar projects make Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards® available to commercial, government and non-profit entities, all without having to install solar panels on roofs or properties; even organizations that lease can participate. Unlike other renewable energy alternatives, CEC’s RooflessSolar, provides long-term financial savings and an effective hedge against rising energy costs because it locks in a defined rate of inflation below industry averages for 20 years.”
The proposal was described as follows, “Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards® are an effective means to reduce your monthly electrical expenses without any capital expenditure, and they are the only solution that allows you to apply those savings against all your electricity costs including demand charge costs. Xcel Energy Solar*Rewards® – financial credits, which are purchased at a discount, are applied directly to your monthly Xcel Energy bill in exchange for the power produced by a distributed power generation system, such as a RooflessSolar array.”
It continues explaining that, “The key benefit of CEC’s RooflessSolar is that as your utility rates increase, your solar bill credits rise at the same rate to meet escalating energy prices. RooflessSolar will deliver Solar*Rewards credits which provide a defined energy cost over the length of the contract. With no upfront investment, RooflessSolar delivers energy cost savings from the first month.”
Malone continued, stating that the solar project was possible through funding awarded to the company by Xcel in 2015. CEC purchased the land for the solar field with the funds and will begin the project as early as July. “What you would be doing, would be buying bill credits for the county that are the direct result of Xcel Energy buying the energy from our facility,” said Malone.
Throughout the conversation, commissioners felt that the offer was too good to be true, stating that there had to be a catch to just signing up and receiving credits on their energy bills. Malone assured the board that the only issue was in the possibility that energy rates could rise or fall and result in a smaller credit on the bill, as well as the fact that the contract would be for a 20-year period. Malone explained that Adam’s State University as well as other neighboring counties were participating in the proposal and that they had some time to consider their options.
Commissioners opted to have the agreement reviewed by Rio Grande County Lawyer Bill Dunn before making a firm decision on the matter and asked that Malone return for next month’s meeting in July. County Administrator Roni Wisdom spoke up and stated for the record that she thought it was at least worth researching and that it could potentially result in $1,000 a year in savings for the county.