about

The Solar Gardens Institute is helping organize communities to pool their resources and go solar. Libraries and schools, places of worship and non-profit groups can benefit by hosting a distributed power plant where anyone can own solar panels. We will be developing workshops and certification programs that assist our mission of solar panel ownership for everyone.

The Solar Gardens Institute advocates for community based energy development through legislation in several states, and the federal SUN act introduced by Colorado Senator Mark Udall. We also support efforts at the local level to develop model solar regulations. Solar Gardens are sprouting up everywhere, transforming communities through solar power and people power.

We are developing workshops and certification programs that assist our mission, and raising funds for our operations and programs.  This will help lead the way to many more solar gardens, around Colorado, all over America, and throughout the world!

Our Mission

  • To educate and learn from the public about community solar energy.
  • To promote good community energy policy at the federal, state, and local levels
  • To assist local organizations in organizing, developing, and managing community-owned solar energy projects everywhere.
  • To provide a way for everyone to own solar panels, making clean energy affordable and available for all humanity.

Principles of Responsible Solar Development

  • Tree Preservation: By hosting panels on another rooftop or a community solar garden, people can protect the trees that shade their houses.
  • Share the Land with ecological restoration and agricultural stewardship, using easements.  Plant trees and hedges for visual screening that also take carbon out of the air.  Combine with features like roads, power lines, and snow fences.
  • Shade Over Pavement instead of competing with photosynthesis.  It’s better to place the solar panels on shade structures above paved areas such as parking lots and driveways.  New cars can plug in here.
  • Solar Good Neighbor Policy:  Consider neighbors’ needs in planning installations.  Since neighbors might be installing as well, develop a neighborhood plan.
  • Limit Facility Scale:  Build to fit within the urban or rural landscape, with most PV facilities under 1 Megawatt.  Use existing distribution lines.  The grid is the tree, and the solar panels are the leaves.
  • Use Local Designers:  Architects, artists, and even kids can create concepts for installations that reflect local character.
  • Consider Going Off-Grid:  At the end of long distribution lines, the cost of maintaining electric poles and lines may outweigh the benefit of staying on the grid.
  • Responsible Business Practices:  Build using local and recycled materials.  Employ local, empowered worker-owners.  Minimize use of toxic materials, use no herbicides, and maximize energy efficiency.
  • Local Ownership and Micro-Financing:  Everyone must have the option to own their solar panels.  Promote a good price for selling responsible solar power to the grid, and low interest financing through public loan guarantees.
  • A hand up for those who need it:  Support a non-profit that donates panels to low and middle income people, who then pass on their savings to solarize more homes.

Founding Principles

  • We are independently owned with a voice for all members”, and follow responsible business practices.
  • We are vendor-neutral and technology-neutral, supporting a level playing field for installers.
  • We work with local designers, artists, and contractors, and seek partnership with local nonprofits, companies, and agencies.
  • We follow responsible solar principles, going above and beyond existing rules to produce responsible green power.
  • We work with the land and the urban environment at human scale to create a solar age we can be proud of.
  • We respect farming and ranching ways of life, and past and future generations.
  • We listen to the community, giving a hand up to those who need it.
  • We support an open forum for all stakeholders, and an honest discussion of the trade-offs.
  • We agree to respect one another, understanding that distributed energy supporters can have differing views on climate and energy development.
  • We support excellence in our team by offering flexibility and giving every member a chance to make their best contribution