Community solar is the name given to commercial-sized solar power systems in which individuals or businesses can buy or lease individual solar power panels and get credit off their monthly bill for the renewable power generated by the systems.
The first system came online in Colorado in 2009, when United Power, an electric cooperative serving more than 67,000 customers in areas of six countries north of Denver, was the first utility to create a solar garden with 48 solar power panels. The coop installed another 48 panels in August 2010.
In 2010, Governor Bill Ritter signed a law creating community solar power systems in the state.
In 2012 and 2013, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s biggest power provider with more than 1 million customers, approved the construction of a total of 25 community solar projects, representing a total of 18 megawatts worth of renewable energy, through the utility’s Solar Rewards Community program.