Solar company looks at two city parcels
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | March 22,2013
The latest solar developer to make a pitch for city land may sell solar panels to residents.
The Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is in talks with the city about putting solar arrays at White’s Playground on Avenue B and the land surrounding the Courcelle building on North Street Extension.
The proposal is in committee and Jim Hartman, CEC vice president of strategic development, stressed that talks are in their early stages.
Unlike other projects launched so far in the city, CEC is looking at a model in which individual investors can purchase solar panels within the development and receive credit from Green Mountain Power for the energy produced.
Hartman said the arrangement is similar to net metering, except the power is generated away from the user.
“You get the same kind of benefits on your bill as if you put solar on your roof,” he said. “There are a lot of people who can’t put solar on their roofs. They have historic houses, they have architectural features they don’t want to interrupt, their roofs are facing the wrong way, there are trees shading the roof or they might not have a roof because they live in an apartment.”
Mayor Christopher Louras said the city had not seen interest in either of the sites from other developers. There were no particular issues with either site, he said, other than that the city has yet to take possession of the Courcelle property, a former reserve center, from the U.S. Army.
“I just got another update, I think, two weeks ago,” Louras said on the status of the building. “We’re still standing by to stand by. The wheels of bureaucracy at the federal level for these projects goes extremely slow.”
According to paperwork CEC submitted to the city, the company could place 200 kilowatts worth of solar collectors at the Courcelle parking lot and another 200 kilowatts at the north end of White’s Playground.
The company is also looking for a third site with at least 4 acres, enough room for a 500-kilowatt array.
CEC also said in its materials it was willing to donate a number of panels to the city for use as “an economic development incentive,” perhaps for businesses the city wants to entice to Rutland.
The company has a project scheduled to begin construction in Putney in the spring and has built similar projects in Colorado, according to Hartman.
He said CEC was attracted to Rutland by Green Mountain Power’s effort to make the city the “solar capital” of the region.