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Community Solar Owners Resources#

Notice: Riverside Community Solar Project Offline Due to Equipment Failure#

We have good news to share. We are now in the process of soliciting proposals from qualified contractors for the design, re-engineering and replacement of the existing central inverter. The City’s Purchasing Department is currently integrating the completed Scope of Work for the project into the full public solicitation format. Once that posting is published, we will be scheduling a site visit for prospective bidders so they can view the conditions of the equipment.

In our Scope of Work, we provided flexibility for contractors to present inverter solutions that balance the priorities of completing the replacement as soon as possible, minimizing inverter life cycle costs over the next 15 years, minimizing risk, minimizing re-engineering requirements and maximizing energy production.

During the due diligence research phase of this project, we learned about industry trends in replacing large central inverters, such as this one, with multiple smaller string inverters. Due to the scarcity of inverter models on the market similar to the failed equipment, we anticipate some level of re-engineering will be required to modify the site infrastructure to accept new inverters with different voltage requirements or optimal operating ranges.

We anticipate selecting a vendor and design framework in April from the proposals submitted. At that point,  we will also provide you with an update on the timeframe of the installation. We are seeking a contractor or team of contractors to both generate the design and complete the construction. This helps ensure that the design work is done properly, and that the contractor(s) involved have proven experience in this type of repowering project work.

According to the inverter manufacturer, a repair requires remanufacturing critical parts, which they estimate could take between three to six months. Due to the cost, delays, and risk that a repair poses, Fort Collins Utilities is pursuing inverter replacement options instead.

The replacement process will also take time; we estimate about six months. But, right now, choosing to replace the inverter appears to offer a more reliable solution at a lower cost. Utilities plans to solicit replacement proposals through a public bidding process that will likely conclude in February.

Since the project began, panel owners have been contributing to its Operations & Maintenance fund to help pay for these sorts of costs as they arise. The cost to replace the inverter will likely exceed the amount in the account, so we need to find a way to pay for those expenses. We will revisit this with owners after we get more information on price and evaluate available options.

Shortly after we receive bids back, we plan to host an owner and beneficiary conversation with staff to present details on how we will resolve the issue and get the array working again.

an aerial view of Riverside Community Solar Project with rows of solar panels

We have been working with the manufacturer (Schneider Electric) to schedule qualified staff to repair the inverter and get energy flowing again. After they visit the site, we expect to get an estimate on when they can repair or replace the equipment.

Please know we are working diligently to get this project back online as soon as possible.

Sept. 8, 2023#

An issue with critical equipment at the Riverside Community Solar Project is preventing the site’s panels from generating and exporting solar power. Unfortunately, this means the bill credits were lower than usual on your September bill. 

Since the site’s inverter failed on Aug. 20, 2023, we have been working closely with our maintenance provider, Namaste Solar, and the inverter manufacturer, to troubleshoot and fix the problem. Right now, we don’t know the time frame to expect a resolution.  

When the Riverside Community Solar Project is not delivering energy to the grid, no credits are generated. Therefore, no credits are applied to your bill until after the inverter is operating again.

Frequently Asked Questions#

If you're moving within Fort Collins, let us know so we can direct your credits to your new address or another preferred account.  

If you're moving outside of Fort Collins, you have two options. You may retain ownership of your panels and designate a beneficiary account to receive your monthly credits, or you may sell or donate your panels.    

Please notify the Community Solar program manager of the pending changes to your account 30 days before the move or closure of your electric account by email or phone: lkeller@fcgov.com or 970-221-6857. General account support is available at utilities@fcgov.com and 970-222-2900. 

Designating a beneficiary account means that you direct the monthly bill credit to another active electric utility account in Fort Collins, but you retain ownership of the panels and remain active in the Community Solar program. Simply notify the Community Solar program manager by email or phone: lkeller@fcgov.com or 970-221-6857. You'll need to provide the last 5 digits of the account number that you want to designate as your beneficiary, along with the customer name and contact information.  

You can sell or donate your solar panels at any time to someone with an active electric account in Fort Collins, according to eligibility criteria in the program rules. For details on program participation, the new customer should refer to the Community Solar website to review the customer agreement and program rules.

How you locate a buyer and set a transaction price is up to you. Utilities does not buy back panels in the project. We maintain a waiting list of people interested in the Riverside Community Solar Project whom we can contact on your behalf with a sale notice. 

Notify the Community Solar program manager of your intent by email or phone: lkeller@fcgov.com or 970-221-6857. Once you have a buyer for your share of the project, you must contact Utilities with their contact information (name, address) so that we can verify their eligibility to participate in the program. We will verify eligibility and notify you with a confirmation to proceed with the sale or transfer.

Yes. Although this was uncertain in 2020, the Fort Collins general municipal insurance policy does provide coverage, including panels owned by customers, against all losses. The policy does not cover any lost earnings from solar production if the project is damaged or destroyed. 

We manage the project on behalf of the participating customer-owners to keep the project in good working condition. We provide monitoring and maintenance services that mirror industry standards to track the site's performance, repair or replace equipment as needed, and plan for equipment failures or retirement. All operations and maintenance costs are paid for by the Operations and Maintenance Fund, which is funded by a portion of the monthly earnings of the project. 

Including both rooftop and Community Solar, you can benefit from a total of either 12 kilowatts-Direct Current (DC) or a combined total of generation that produces no more than 200% of your average annual energy load (based on a 24-month period), whichever is more beneficial to you. Again, the sizing includes all dedicated generation sources that benefit your electric account.

For solar systems that are not owned by the property owner, such as leased systems, maximum solar system sizing is limited to 120% of intended renewable energy offset or 7.2 kilowatts-DC, including all sources of generation. 

Battery storage sizing is not constrained by this policy.  

Similar to owning a solar array on your own property, owning Community Solar panels exposes you to the risks of equipment failure and loss of production. This includes the possibility that some portion of the array or all of the array may be out of service for some duration of time. While solar panels are generally known to be durable and capable of producing energy for decades, the inverter(s) and other equipment at the site may fail or need to be replaced over time so that energy generated by the solar array can be delivered to the grid. Collectively, the owners of panels at the Project bear these risks and the financial liability of paying for operating costs, maintenance and the ultimate decommissioning of the project at the end of its useful life.

As the project's manager and owner, Utilities maintains the Operations and Maintenance Fund to help cover these costs. However, there is no way to mitigate the risk of the lost value of generation when the project is not operating at its full potential.  

The City of Fort Collins holds an insurance policy that covers potential damage to all assets, including customer-owned solar panels. This lowers risk to the City and customer-owners, but does not completely absorb all risk of physical damage.  

Finally, rate structures and the rates for both electric service and energy returned to the grid from the project will change over the course of time, in accordance with City Code subject to approval by City Council.  

How to Read Your Bill#

In ground solar panels

Click the button below to view a sample bill and find out where your bill credits appear.

View a Sample Bill

Ownership Transfer of the Riverside Community Solar Project#

Utilities acquired Clean Energy Collective’s assets in the Riverside Community Solar Project Aug. 28, 2020. Utilities continues to credit customer bills according to the current Community Solar Time-of-Day pricing. Since the transfer, Utilities has provided all customer service, and operations and maintenance of the array.

Existing solar panel owners must sign a new Continuing Customer Agreement with Utilities before Dec. 31, 2020, in order to continue to receive bill credits and remain in the Community Solar Program.

Participants will be contacted by email and U.S. mail regarding details of updating their agreement. See the Continuing Customer Agreement, as well as the Riverside Community Solar Program Rules for details.


Did You Know?

Installing plastic covers over single-pane windows during the winter can help your home perform better. 

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Replacing older water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers with efficient ENERGY STAR® models can save energy and increase home comfort.