Goal: Million more solar roofs

Environment Colorado field organizer Lindsey Wilson pitches the goal of one million solar roofs in Colorado.

Solar energy advocates want to see a million more Colorado roofs with solar panels.

Spurred by a new report from the left-leaning group Environment Colorado that said there’s no reason why the state shouldn’t be generating more solar energy, the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association launched its own Million Solar Roofs campaign on Thursday.

As a result, the two groups held campaign kick-off events across the state, including in Grand Junction and Rifle, calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper and other state officials to help get that many solar systems installed by 2030.

“With sunny skies for nearly 300 days of the year, there is no reason that Colorado should be losing the solar race to New Jersey,” said Lindsey Wilson, a local field organizer for Environment Colorado. “Colorado gets less than 1 percent of our energy from solar power despite enormous potential.”

In Denver, leaders of the two groups announced that, so far, more than 240 organizations, businesses and elected officials already have joined forces endorsing the effort, which they said could generate up to 3 gigawatts of electricity.

In Grand Junction, several solar and renewable energy advocates, including owners of local solar energy installers such as High Noon Solar and Atlasta Solar Center, gathered at District 51’s Career Center, 2935 North Ave., calling for more solar installations.

“The city’s implemented a number of conservation measures, including solar, compressed natural gas, geothermal. All kinds of different things,” said Terry Franklin, utilities manager for Grand Junction.

“In the last three years, the city’s installed over 231 kilowatts of solar energy throughout different facilities in the city. We’re saving roughly 425,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, and also saving about $70,000 a year in energy costs,” Franklin said.

But the city and region can do more, he said.

In Rifle, the campaign was launched at the Rifle Police Department, which is installing solar panels on its building as part of a community effort to install 425 kilowatts of solar on eight city facilities.

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., introduced a bill that would allow homeowners to receive the same tax credits they can get for installing roof systems when they invest in solar community projects.

By law, homeowners can qualify for 30 percent individual renewable energy tax credits when they install solar panels on their roofs.

Udall’s bill would allow homeowners who for one reason or another can’t install such roof systems to still be able to get the credit.


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