Boulder has subscribed to Jack’s Solar Garden LLC, a Boulder County company that’s co-developing a solar power and agriculture installation near Longmont.
According to the city’s website, Boulder will provide subscriptions to low-income community members. Residents of the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park in North Boulder, which is undergoing a city-led program to transition residents from mobile homes to permanent structures, will be offered portions of the subscription. According to a news release, up to 20 Ponderosa households can benefit from the subscription.
A 1.2-megawatt solar garden near Longmont off North 95th Street is under construction. Live crops will grow alongside the solar panels, which will provide shade in a process called agrivoltaics. Build out is set for September, said Byron Kominek, owner and manager of Jack’s.
“We’re an option for them that helps them promote local solar development, as well as being able to learn how to incorporate solar with agriculture on our land,” he said.
More than 3,200 solar panels will be installed, enough to power 300 homes, according to Jack’s website.
The family-owned and -operated company inherited 24-acres spread over three fields between Niwot and Longmont. The land was acquired in 1972 by Kominek’s grandfather, Jack, who inspired the name of the business. One field is dedicated to the solar garden project, while the other two are undergoing regenerative agriculture.
There will be a space for community education, arts and scientific research. Jack’s is working with Colorado State University and the University of Arizona to study the co-location of agriculture with solar farming. Kominek said there are plans to grow garden vegetables, pasture grasses and wildflowers.
Boulder purchased more than 4% of Jack’s solar grid for a 20-year subscription, Kominek said. The city bought the subscription with money from the Energy Impact Offset Fund, a fund created in 2017 as part of the city’s marijuana energy offset requirements.
Jack’s is a part of Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Community program, and is able to sell subscriptions through Xcel Energy Inc., Kominek said.
“We are pleased to support such an innovative solar development in Boulder County and provide solar access to more Boulder community members,” said city solar project manager Yael Gichon in a news release. “We think this project can help demonstrate new approaches to leveraging our agricultural lands, supporting healthy ecosystems and keeping land in the hands of local farmers through solar development.”
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