When the Civic Center in Edgewater was being proposed in 2018, the community was invited to offer feedback during a series of charrettes and public meetings. This process welcomed residents to share their desires for the new government building. With overwhelming support, the community expressed hope for a solar installation on the top of the new building.
The Edgewater Sustainability Plan was developed the following year with a goal to increase the use of clean renewable energy to 100 percent by 2035. One of several action items to meet this goal included developing policies to support city-led solar installations.
A request for proposal to put an installation on the Civic Center went out last summer. The solar company was selected by a team including staff, Edgewater Sustainability Board members and local residents. As a locally founded, employee-owned cooperative, Namaste Solar demonstrated the most understanding of Colorado municipalities. The contract process was led by Rachel Mountain, Co-owner and Director of C&I Sales at Namaste Solar.
“We are thrilled to work with the City of Edgewater,” Mountain shares. “In addition to achieving sustainability goals, this project will support local jobs and reduce the city’s operating expenses for years to come.”
A leasing option was initially explored and considered even though municipalities do not normally qualify for government subsidies. Ultimately it made more sense to purchase it outright. As city staff began to make this recommendation to the City Council, the federal government passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which made the choice to purchase instead of lease that much more evident. Through the IRA, municipalities are able to take advantage of a 30 percent tax credit for a direct pay provision. The solar installation was passed by Edgewater City Council on Sept. 20. Construction will likely start in the spring of 2023.
The solar panels are a 20-25 year asset. With the IRA, the buy back period is 13 years. The equivalent is Edgewater enjoying free renewable energy from the sun for about a decade.
As the City of Edgewater finds benefits from the IRA, there will be many possibilities for residents to save money when electrifying a home, installing heat pumps, purchasing an electric vehicle, and solar installations. When considering your next home or car upgrades, look into the IRA possibilities to save money and the planet.
Lilly Steirer serves on Edgewater City Council. Feel free to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org