For those interested in reducing their carbon footprint and making their homes greener, renewables can be one option. After acting on cost effective energy efficiency and conservation opportunities, there are a few ways to introduce a renewable element to your utilities mix.
- Purchase renewable energy from your utility provider
The City of Fort Collins allows businesses and residents to purchase clean, renewable energy for an additional 2.54 cents per kilowatt-hour. It’s so that customers who are willing to pay a little more for their electricity can be confident in the knowledge it comes from the cleanest sources available. The green energy from Fort Collins Utilities comes from wind farms located in Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas. For every unit of renewable energy electricity generated, the equivalent of renewable energy certificates is produced, which helps build a market for renewable electricity while helping reducing global climate change.
- Generate On-site Electricity
Generating your own electricity on your property, or ‘parallel generation’ can be a cost effective way to reduce utility bills. Using on-site renewable sources to generate electricity, like solar panels can mean a lower carbon footprint for your home and lifestyle overall. The time and monetary investment can be significant – for example, installing a solar photo voltaic ( “PV” ) system, your home must meet parallel generation requirements and you’ll need a building permit. It can be involved, but according to one source, the return on a solar system in Colorado can be $24,575 over 20 years. In Fort Collins, the savings can be much more immediate courtesy of Fort Collins Utilities’ solar rebates program.
Some people are also curious about off-grid residential wind power. Installing a practical wind turbine on your property within city limits is not permitted in Fort Collins due to municipal regulations, but there are options for more rural home owners (the US Department of Energy recommends you live on an acre or more) where turbines don’t conflict with HOA charters and county regulations.
- Buy into Community Solar
For those interested in the benefit of solar ownership without the maintenance of a stand-alone system, the Fort Collins Community Solar project has partnered with Clean Energy Collective (CEC). Panels are available for purchase on the solar farm in Fort Collins near Riverside Ave, allowing customers to lower their utility bills and take advantage of the same solar rebates available to homeowners that do full installs. You can find out more at www.FortCollinsCommunitySolar.com. While shares in this project are currently on a waitlist basis, other shared solar projects are planned in the next several years.
The path to renewable energy sources can seem daunting, but we’re fortunate to live in a city that places an emphasis on generating clean, renewable energy. There are organizations like FortZED dedicated to helping residents, local companies, and City personnel to catalyzing novel technologies and pilot projects that continue to explore how we can generate and consume energy in a manner that is clean and sustainable.
To learn more about solar programs and support from City of Fort Collins Utilities, download the Solar Handout here.