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Xcel Energy receives thumbs up for solar energy development

Staff Report
DENVER- A recent 2010 survey from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) hands out big praise for Xcel Energy’s ability to deliver solar energy to its customers with the energy company ranking fourth out of 230 utilities nationwide. The fourth-place ranking was based on the solar megawatts-per-customer category.
The solar megawatts-per-customer category measures solar power added per customer served. Xcel Energy also gained fifth place, up from fourteenth, in SEPA’s ranking of utilities based on overall megawatt capacity of solar power.
According to a report in the Colorado Independent, SEPA called Xcel Energy’s business model creative and “…appropriate for its environment.”
However Xcel Energy has also been curtailing its Solar Rewards program, costing the solar industry nearly 600 jobs since mid-February, according to industry spokesman Neal Lurie in the Colorado Independent report.
As Xcel Energy has backed away from programs designed to help advance solar-generated electricity, Holy Cross Energy, the Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and Garfield County have collaborated on what is, for now, the nation’s largest community-owned solar array.
The array, consisting of 3,575 solar energy panels is expected to produce more than 1,500 megawatt hours of renewable electricity each year for as many as 350 Holy Cross Energy customers who buy in to the project. Customers can purchase a solar panel or two and in return receive lower energy bills.
The array covers five acres of land at the Garfield County airport.

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