Nation's First Solar Garden Helping Low-Income Families

- GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - There are dozens of solar gardens scattered through Colorado. Grand Junction is soon going to be considered part of that list.

However with an exception, as the nation’s first community solar gardens helping low-income families save up to almost 90 percent on their electricity bill.

This is a partnership with Grand Valley Power, GRID Alternatives and Housing Resources of Western Colorado.
 These organizations will be installing a 29kW array or row of solar panels; able to help six to 10 low-income families.

This is a four-phase project and Brenda Lange and Herbert Sanders is the first family to sign up for the program hoping to save money.

“I’ve checked into solar and it was 15 grand for this house,” said Lange.

Sanders owned two companies, however that soon changed.

“We based on our revenue on national and international clients and after 9/11 they stopped spending money and after three years of trying to save two companies didn’t work,” said Sanders.

After calculating his savings; Sanders says he will probably say $60.00 to $70.00 on his electricity bill, which they will use to fuel their vehicles.

The second phase once approved is to install another 29kW array able to power another 33 homes in the Grand Valley. Next year, Grid Alternatives is hoping to expand this low-income program to develop a 1-mega watt of solar electricity capacity able to serve 330 customers.

Recently, Grand Valley Power met with other solar and electric energy leaders in Washington D.C. to speak about the program.

“So often projects like this just get lost in bureaucracy and one of the things I asked them to do is to consider providing block grants to the states so the states can administer projects like this,” said Grand Valley Power general manager Tom Walch.

Organizers will be putting up the solar panels on May 29 and 30 expecting to have 100 volunteers helping.

Grid Alternatives is having a Community Solarthon on May 30 at the site located at 714 29 Road Grand Junction.

A Solarthon tours will be given from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. there will be a community celebration lunch.

For more information about the nation’s first solar community garden project click here.



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