Question of solar support may be heading to the ballot

Golden to consider putting panels up near Rooney Road

Posted 7/25/17

Golden is a small, forward-thinking community.

And some residents believe that implementing a community solar garden in Golden can pave the path for the standard for the entire state.

“Golden can serve as a pilot for many things,” said …

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Question of solar support may be heading to the ballot

Golden to consider putting panels up near Rooney Road

Posted

Golden is a small, forward-thinking community.

And some residents believe that implementing a community solar garden in Golden can pave the path for the standard for the entire state.

“Golden can serve as a pilot for many things,” said Golden resident Deborah Deal-Blackwell. “We can try different things that other cities can’t.”

So Deal-Blackwell, CEO of the IX Power Foundation, Inc., recently signed up to become a volunteer to advocate for a community solar garden in Golden.

Golden’s Community Sustainability Advisory Board has been looking into the possibility of installing a community solar garden in Golden for many years, said Theresa Worsham, the City of Golden’s sustainability coordinator. One of the city’s sustainability goals is to provide 50 percent of the community’s electricity use from renewable energy sources by 2027. A solar garden would help the city make substantial progress toward this goal, she said.

“We’re more sustainable as a community when we produce our own energy,” Worsham said. “And if our efforts can help people to stay in their homes and run their businesses through stabilizing energy costs, then it’s a benefit for our community as a whole.”

More than 20 sites were analyzed as potential locations for a community solar garden, and the Rooney Road Sports Complex, 101 Rooney Road, in Golden was identified as the most feasible.

The site, built on top of a landfill, is about 50 acres, and the solar garden would use about 10 acres.

There are only a few thijgs that a brownfield site (ground contamination concerns) can be used for, said Whitney Painter, a Golden resident who sits on the board of the Community Sustainability Advisory Board. And one of them is renewable energy, she said.

“From our perspective, it’s a win for everyone,” Painter said. “There would still be room for soccer, and a solar garden would be a use that can benefit the entire community.”

The land is owned by Jefferson County and leased to Golden for recreational use. In order to use a portion of the site for a community solar garden, it requires a citizen vote to approve the use of renewable energy at the site. The next step would be amending the lease with the county.

Golden City Council will vote whether or not to put it on the November ballot on Aug. 10. If council decides to go forward with putting the lease amendment on the ballot, the city can no longer spend funds to advocate for it because of Colorado election laws — the legwork would need to be done by volunteers not affiliated with the city’s government.

Getting it on the ballot is just the first step. It will be up to the voters in November to decide if they want a community solar garden, said Jordan Beezley, chair of the Community Sustainability Advisory Board.

Details on the actual solar garden project will follow the outcome of the November vote, Beezley said.

But, he added, “assuming it passes (in November), there will be lots of community input opportunities.”

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