Solar Energy International’s (SEI) Solarize Delta County Farms has officially come to a close, and the cumulative success of all three Solarize campaigns can finally be revealed. The final results are: nearly 60 new solar installs equaling over 400kW, nine new jobs, and over $1.5 million invested by community members in solar energy in Delta County!

Solarize is an outreach model that includes a driving organization, partnered solar installers, and a streamlined process for community members to go solar with a tiered rebate system as an incentive. Combined with a 13-week outreach period, the model aims to inspire people to go solar together.

SEI has been working on local economic development through solar initiatives in its rural homebase, Delta County, since 2015. In the past three years, two of three major coal mines have closed in the region, and the community has suffered at least 1,000 job losses. SEI sought out a solution to diversity the local tax base in the absence of coal, and ‘Solarize,’ economic diversification through kickstarting a solar market efforts were born.  

The project started in the North Fork Valley in 2015, and as a result of community interest in solar, expanded to include all of Delta County in 2016.  The final campaign, Solarize Delta County Farms, fell in line with the County’s adoption of C-PACE (Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing, and in addition to the typical Solarize model,  it focused on bringing resources to farms and rural businesses on energy efficiency and renewable energy financing opportunities.

Solarize Delta County Farms held 20 educational events with various speakers that included: Delta Montrose Electric Association, the C-PACE Director, The Colorado Department of Agriculture, The Colorado Office of Energy, local banks, local farms with solar, and partnered installers, Empowered Energy Systems, Sunsense Solar, and Black Canyon Resources. Solarize was also featured in 15 community summer festivals and business events to spread the word about the program. Many of the events incorporated opportunities to learn about government programs such as C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) and REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) that help farms and businesses fund energy efficiency upgrades on their property, including solar installation.

Over the past three years SEI has reached over 1,200 people in the County, spreading solar education through these Solarize campaigns. With the help of partnered installers SEI has streamlined the process of installing solar for residents of Delta County. Brad Burritt and Danielle Carre’ from Empowered Energy Systems said the following about Solarize:

“It was an honor for our team to work with SEI and DCED on the Solarize Campaigns.  We provided to Delta County home and business owners state-of-the-art PV systems that will produce very low-carbon, low priced, and reliable energy for decades to come.  And, Solarize helped grow our company and our team, adding a number of new well-paying jobs to our local economy.”

Although the sun has set on Solarize, SEI hopes to continue fostering the growth of local solar markets in rural Colorado. To learn more about the Solar Forward program, SEI’s Solarize spinoff that aims to catalyze Solarize programs throughout Colorado, contact Local Solar Development Director, Mary Marshall at [email protected]