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Customers can buy panels and own their own power

Don’t want the chore of putting solar panels on your house? Black Hills Energy is now offering a way to solve that.

The Pueblo-area electric utility cut the ribbon Thursday on a new 122-kilowatt “solar garden” east of town — a pilot project of 1,280 panels built by the Clean Energy Collective of Louisville.

Those panels are up for sale to Black Hills customers who want to own their own power supply.

Clean Energy Collective will sell the panels on a firstcome, first-served basis (for information and prices call 225-1323).

The idea is simple: The electricity a customer gets from owning solar panels in the array replaces electricity on their monthly Black Hills bill.

So why would Black Hills help customers find a different source of power? State law requires the utility to provide 20 percent of its power supply this year from renewable energy and working with Clean Energy Collective helps satisfy that requirement.

“And we’re committed to helping create additional solar gardens,” spokesman Brett Jones said Thursday.

Also, the power from 10 panels is being dedicated to Posada, the emergency housing agency. It’s providing the land where the array sits on 57th Lane.

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Here’s how the Clean Energy solar program will work: Customers have to buy a minimum of 11 panels — which would cost $4,665. That number should replace about 22 percent of the electricity on a typical residential customer’s bill from Black Hills. The purchase cost will actually be 30 percent cheaper over time because the federal government gives solar users a tax credit on those costs.

Clean Energy officials said the savings on electricity would pay for the cost of the purchase in about 12 years and from then on, the solar-powered electricity is free to the owner.

A residential customer who wants to completely replace their Black Hills electricity with solar power would need about 46 panels at $19,510.

Clean Energy doesn’t offer financing but can direct customers to a lender for short-term loans.

The new solar array is just a pilot program with only 1,280 panels available. That will likely serve between 50 and 100 customers.

Clean Energy has built similar arrays in Fort Collins and elsewhere.

And insurance is built into the purchase costs so if a tornado sends the solar array to Kansas, customers aren’t charged to rebuild it.

For information, go to info@BHERooflessSolar.

This article was written by PETER ROPER from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.