Solar energy firm selected for cooperative effort

A Grand Junction solar energy company has been selected to install systems for a cooperative of homeowners and business owners.

Atlasta Solar Center will provide individual proposals to members of the Mesa County Solar Co-op, but offer pricing based on bulk purchases. The co-op remains open to new members until Aug. 1. The group is free to join.

“We’re eager to help Western Colorado home and business owners switch to solar energy,” said Chris Campbell, senior project manager at Atlasta Solar Center.

The company sells, installs and services photovoltaic and thermal solar systems for residential and commercial use, including photovoltaic systems that tie into the grid and systems that operate off the grid. Launched in 1979, the firm is one of the longest operating solar companies in Colorado.

Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit organization that represents solar owners and supporters, facilitated a competitive bidding process to supply systems to co-op members. A selection committee comprised of co-op members reviewed the bids and selected Atlasta Solar Center.

Kevin Sabo, a member of the committee, praised the request for proposals and selection process. “I was so impressed with how thorough the language was that not only did I want to participate in the installer selection committee, but I was convinced we were going to easily weed out those unqualified firms because of our rigid requirements. And in the end, Atlasta Solar Center rose above all the rest.”

Other partners support the co-op and outreach efforts, including the Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action.

“The solar co-op is building a learning community around the benefits solar provides owners, and the installed projects will support local jobs and keep energy dollars in families’ pockets,” said Joel Dyer, a regional organization with the alliance. “This initiative is a win-win-win for Mesa County.”

Wendy Metzger, the owner of Grand Valley Greens, expects a solar system to reduce expenses in operating an aquaponic facility that grows produce and fish.

“I was excited to find out more about how I could use solar power to strengthen and grow my small business,” Metzger said. “The company’s goal is to provide fresh, nutritious greens and tilapia fish to the local community. To accomplish this year-round in Colorado, we set up our aquaponic farm indoors within a controlled environment. Controlling the climate indoors takes energy, and solar will allow me to reduce my expenses. These savings will help my business and customers while supporting cultivation of local, fresh and nutritious food.”

Merritt Kinsey, another co-op member who served on the selection committee, said he’s benefited from solar systems before.

“My previous experience with solar was at our residence in The Seasons,” Kinsey said. “The system’s payback was quick, about 4.5 years, and we could see our power generation statistics daily. In most months, our energy bill was zero dollars and additional savings helped offset our gas costs. We are looking forward to having solar again as this is the right thing to do, and banding together as a solar co-op is a great idea.”