Denver is among a growing number of cities in the U.S. to develop a solar map for building owners. The recently deployed solar map allows building owners in the Denver metro area to learn how suitable their building is for a solar installation—for free.
Originally the project was designed to estimate the potential of installing solar panels on roughly 2,000 commercial properties in the Denver metro area. As the Denver Regional Council of Governments began to work with Woolpert Inc. to design the system, they realized that they could expand the project out to about 800,000 buildings with more generalized information, said Simon Montagu, DRCOG director of customer resource and support.
The site was made possible thanks to a $180,000 New Energy and Economic Development grant from Colorado’s Governor’s Energy Office. Funds for the grant came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“The whole intent of the grant was job creation,” Montagu said. The group wanted to foster the solar industry. “We wanted to connect [building owners] with an installer who could then come out and give them a detailed estimate of solar.”
By allowing local residents easy access and comprehensive information about solar at their location, the site should also help increase adoption of solar at the local level, helping the Colorado meet its distributed generation requirement under the state’s renewable portfolio standard, a side benefit, said Montagu.
The site also allows up to five installers that work in a building owner’s area to contact interested owners, according to Montagu.
“We worked with solar providers and said we’ll connect you with the building owners to give them a more detailed view of what all the rebates are,” he said.
He explained that within the region covered by the solar map, from Castle Rock, Colo., to Longmont, Colo.—more than 60 miles—there are different rebates and incentives and that DRCOG couldn’t keep up with all of them. Local solar installers would know about local rebates and incentives (We also have an extensive list on our solar rebates page).
Other cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Francisco have created solar maps for their residents.
Montagu said Denver’s solar map is a bit different.
“It’s bigger in area, to start,” he said. Also, he wasn’t sure whether or not other cities had built in a feature allowing installers to directly contact building owners.
Looking forward, Montagu would like to add more functionality to the site. In Boston, there’s a database of sites that have gone up because of the solar map there.
“It shows cost, the builder and the savings,” he said. “I’d love to build in that capacity.”
At press time, Montagu said their Google Analytics showed that the site received more than 7,000 hits between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3.
He noted that the site was so popular that servers couldn’t keep up with the number of visitors at one point and crashed.
Pictured: Using the Denver Regional Solar Map, we see the solar potential of the Clean Energy Authority office.