Denver received $1 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Renewable and Clean Energy Challenge grant program to launch community solar gardens across city properties, the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency announced Thursday.
The funds will help support the city’s Renewable Denver Initiative, which aims to make Denver powered by 100% renewable electricity by 2030. The electricity generated from the solar gardens will be shared between the city buildings and low-income residents in the surrounding areas, according to the news release.
“This initiative is an opportunity to improve our air, mitigate the effects of climate change and invest in our community,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “And by leading on climate issues, it’s also a way to help residents lower their electric bills.”
The solar gardens will be planted over municipal parking lots, including at recreation centers, libraries and schools. “The arrays also provide ideal locations to co-locate with publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations,” the news release stated.
“Hosting community solar gardens on municipal property is new in Colorado and holds significant promise,” Jonathan Rogers, spokesman for the city’s climate action office, said in a statement. “Compared to privately-owned land, municipal sites can be made available at lower cost and this approach also provides solar power to members of the community.”
DOLA’s $12 million Renewable and Clean Energy Challenge was kickstarted in 2019 to help support efforts to reach Gov. Jared Polis' goal to get Colorado using 100% renewable energy by 2040. About $2 million has been set aside for planning efforts, and $10 million has been allocated for implementation projects.
Alongside Denver, other implementation award winners include Breckenridge, Erie, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Gunnison County and San Miguel County. Grants ranged from $200,000 to $1 million.