A highlight of Solar Power Generation USA, organized by Green Power Conferences and held this past week in Newport Beach, California, was the awards ceremony recognizing outstanding projects and breakthroughs leading the next stage of American solar power generation.
Taking the prize for best Solar Collaboration was the SMPA Community Solar Project (located in the Paradox Valley in South Western Colorado), the largest community owned solar garden in the United States. The project, a tight collaboration between the San Miguel Power Association, the Clean Energy Collective, Martifer Solar, and Sunsense Solar successfully navigated a whole host of challenges to be completed within budget and in a record time with amazing attention to detail.
The unique ownership model of the project enables customers to purchase panels or offset their energy consumption at no direct cost to the utility itself. The structure of the partnership yields high returns to all parties and provides maximum production with minimal upkeep to all program participants.
The partnership between Martifer Solar USA and the Clean Energy Collective will continue through 2013, with six additional projects contracted in the state of Colorado.
For Best Solar Project, the award went to Constellation’s 16.1 MW grid connected solar project at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The project, constructed at no upfront cost to the state of Maryland and coupled with a 1.6 MW system that supplies power directly to the university, demonstrates the potential of public-private partnerships in furthering renewable energy and sustainability goals.
The solar farm presents an interesting teaching and learning opportunity for students, created jobs during the construction process for the local community, and provides a strong model for future public- private partnerships.
Most Innovative Solar Company went to Clean Power Finance. In just under two years, the company has created an online marketplace connecting the solar industry and capital markets to improve installer access to funding.
In addition, Clean Power Finance has created online tools and a solar community that provides solar professionals with a platform to design and quote solar systems and share ideas with peers to grow their businesses. Clean Power Finance is also leading efforts to reduce the overall cost of solar for the entire industry through projects like the National Solar Permitting Database, a Department of Energy-supported effort to create a free database of permitting requirements across the United States.
For links to other industry events check out Energy Insight’s Renewable Energy Conferences and Expos page.