Xcel Energy announced that it has selected SunShare to develop, subscribe and
operate an additional 4.5 megawatts of community solar gardens through three projects in
Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties, under the utility’s Solar*Rewards Community program.
The selection builds on a continuing partnership between Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest
electric and natural gas utility, and SunShare, a local community solar developer founded by a
group of entrepreneurs. SunShare noted that it now has more community solar garden projects in
place or awarded than any other company in the nation.
In Colorado, SunShare will now serve consumers in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson and El
Paso counties. With the selection, SunShare, which was founded in Colorado Springs, has hit its
target to grow by 20 times in the next eight months.
“We are excited about our partnership with Xcel Energy, and the opportunity to bring solar
energy without rooftop panels to thousands of homes, businesses, municipalities and schools in
the Denver Metro area,” said SunShare Founder and President David Amster-Olszewski. “By
building large central solar projects instead of thousands of small rooftop systems, Community
Solar opens the doors to the benefits of solar to any customer, regardless of roof space, shading,
or home ownership.”
“Our Solar*Rewards Community programs have been highly successful and popular with
the solar industry and our customers,” said David Eves, president and CEO of Public
Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “By taking advantage of the lower
prices associated with a larger solar generating resource, Solar*Rewards Community is one
great way to provide our customers with the solar energy they want at a competitive price.
These projects will be beneficial for our customers and the community.”
Xcel Energy also has proposed an additional 6.5 megawatts of solar gardens in its 2014
Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan. Xcel Energy selected the SunShare projects
based on an evaluation of its price and the operational value it brings to the electric system.
SunShare has more than 12 megawatts of solar projects built, under development or
awarded in the Front Range service territories of Xcel Energy, Colorado Springs Utilities,
and Fort Collins Utilities. Earlier this summer, Xcel Energy awarded SunShare five, 500-
kilowatt community solar projects under the utility’s Solar*Rewards Community standard
offer, for a total of 7 megawatts with Xcel Energy.
SunShare’s first two, 500-kilowatt Community Solar Gardens were built in Colorado Springs in
2011 under a pilot program Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) developed. Altogether, SunShare
can now allow businesses, public entities, non-profits and residents in Adams, Arapahoe,
Denver, El Paso and Jefferson Counties to participate in the program, allowing them to “go
solar” without an on-site or rooftop installation of panels.
The Solar*Rewards Community program was developed through collaboration with the
solar industry and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and created in response to the
State of Colorado's legislation (House Bill 10-1342), passed in 2010, to provide for
community solar gardens. Xcel Energy supported the legislation.
For more information on the Solar*Rewards Community or Solar*Rewards programs, visit
www.xcelenergy.com/solar , or email email@example.com .
Customers interested in becoming a part of SunShare’s community solar gardens should
email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303.296.0919.
November 8, 2013
Mr. Ken Lund
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
1625 Broadway, Suite 2700
Denver, CO 80202
RE: Colorado Springs RTA Application - City for Champions
Dear Mr. Lund:
The purpose of this letter is to provide clarification regarding the City of Colorado Springs commitment to provide the public funding identified in the City for Champions RTA application. I want to reiterate my support and enthusiasm for our application to enhance tourism to our great State of Colorado through attracting new visitors to Colorado Springs. The City can provide funding from the following sources:
Utilizing existing bond capacity
Increases in general fund revenues
City sales tax increment revenues from City for Champions
City Parking Enterprise System
Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority dedicated funding
Currently, the City has approximately $83 million in debt. Over the next few years that indebtedness will fall to approximately $50 million. By City Charter, the debt cap is approximately $400 million. The City has substantial bonding capacity that can be utilized in support of City for Champions project components.
The Executive Branch also expects additional general fund revenues to become available through continued growth in the local economy and tax base, as well as additional revenue generated through efficiencies in municipal government.
As the State is doing, I will support using a portion of our local sales tax increment from the City for Champion’s projects to fund a portion of the public investment. Estimates of the City sales tax revenues accruing from City for Champions are $174M over 30 years.
The City is committed to utilizing the municipally owned Parking Enterprise System in support of RTA projects. The Parking Enterprise currently has bonding capacity that can be dedicated to the construction of the 1,500 car parking structure included in the City for Champions application.
There is currently $2.12M included in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority approved budget for funding a portion of the America the Beautiful Park Bridge.
The City is committed to utilizing any and all of the sources described above to fully finance the public funding identified in the City for Champions Regional Tourism Act application. Thank you for the opportunity to provide the clarifying information above. We look forward to working with you, OEDIT staff, and the Economic Development Commission through the remainder of the Regional Tourism Act application process.
The City for Champions RTA Application team and its professional analysts have had an opportunity to review the preliminary “Third Party Analyst Evaluation: Colorado Springs RTA Application” prepared by EPS dated October 28, 2013. We appreciate the effort and attention EPS gave to their analysis and the City for Champions RTA Application Team is responding with the following additions and clarifications.
The ESP report verifies the complex nature of the City for Champions proposal. I believe Council made the appropriate decision to remain silent. In all these types of proposals, the risks must be weighed against the benefits. In the original application, the projects did not accomplish the programs objectives. Hence, the evaluation stated: As described in the report, "none of the four project components have met either the financial or development readiness criteria". I am proud of Council for being diligent and examining the proposal. We will hold a town hall meeting when the revised version is analyzed by ESP to determine what the citizens of Colorado Springs think. It will be after that we will decide whether or not to take a position on the proposal.
I want to thank Chris Melcher for his service to the City of Colorado Springs and wish him and his family the best. I understand the challenging role of being an attorney for multiple clients, especially when it is a new form of governance. Council is willing to work with the Mayor to help find a new City Attorney. Public service is very demanding and I understand why someone would want to limit their service. I again wish Chris and his family the best through this transition. I look forward to working with the next City Attorney to keep the City moving forward and accomplishing great things for its citizens.
Colorado Springs City Attorney Christopher J. Melcher has announced that will be leaving his position as City Attorney on January 31, 2014.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to have served the City and the Mayor as City Attorney these past two years. I believe public service is the highest and most noble calling, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our community. Serving in this position has allowed me to be a part of two historic achievements for our City: First, the very successful lease of Memorial Hospital to UCH, and the creation of a medical school campus and a community health foundation; and second, assisting in the transition to the new Strong Mayor form of government following voter approval. When I accepted Mayor Bach’s request to serve, I agreed to a commitment of two years – and I have enjoyed every day. Now that we have accomplished so many of our goals, it is time for me to return to the private sector.”
Mayor Steve Bach appointed Mr. Melcher to the position of City Attorney on October 1, 2011. As City Attorney, Mr. Melcher has been the Chief Legal Advisor to the Mayor, City Council, all Boards and Commissions, Colorado Springs Utilities, Memorial Health System and all other enterprises and appointees of the City. Under Chris Melcher’s leadership, the City Attorney’s Office has had numerous notable accomplishments including:
· The successful negotiation and completion of the $1.9 Billion Lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health, approved by over 82% of the voters in 2012, and the creation of a medical school branch campus.
· The creation of the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, with potential assets in excess of $100 Million and a generational commitment to health and wellness in our community far into the future.
· Providing advice, leadership, and legal guidance to both City Council and the Mayor in the historic transition to a new Strong Mayor form of government following approval of nearly 60% of the voters in November 2010.
· Drafting and approval of a new Election and Campaign Finance Code in 2012.
· Restructuring and upgrading the office of the City Attorney, bringing on a number of new highly talented attorneys, and significantly reducing outside counsel expenses for both the City and Utilities.
· Successful resolution of a number of difficult lawsuits against the City.
Mayor Steve Bach said, “Chris Melcher has been an outstanding leader, attorney and adviser for many working in the City. He is thoughtful, smart and strategic. He loves our city and has done a tremendous amount for us in two years. The success of leasing Memorial Hospital to the University of Colorado Health is due largely to Chris Melcher’s tenacity and hard work. We will miss him greatly.”
Dick Celeste, community leader, former President of Colorado College and former Governor of Ohio said, “Chris Melcher is a gifted attorney and a dedicated public servant. He has always been guided by what he believes is best for our community and its commitment to a fresh vision for the future.”
Prior to serving as City Attorney, Chris Melcher was Chief Legal Officer for Colorado College, where his duties included advice and leadership to the President and the Board on all legal and business issues. Previously, Chris served as General Counsel and senior legal advisor to a number of Fortune 500 companies, and to public and private internet and technology businesses. Early in his career Chris served for many years as a federal prosecutor in Washington D.C. He is a graduate of Yale Law School.
Chris has served on numerous boards, including as a Founding Director and Chair of the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority Board and as a Founding Director of the Colorado Springs Chapter of First Tee.
In our Oct. 14 letter to the Mayor regarding the 2014 Budget and budget process, Council stated the following regarding stormwater:
1. Council will be proposing a Stormwater appropriation department dedicated to stormwater operations and maintenance.
2. Council will be proposing a supplemental budget appropriation ordinance out of the 2013 fund balance of $2 million dollars to the Stormwater appropriation department to begin work during this fiscal year on some of the stormwater issues from the 2013 summer flood.
We’d like to clarify that Council is not endorsing the creation of a physical department nor do we have plans to expand city government. We are advocating for the creation of a “virtual” department, or more accurately, a stormwater appropriations or dedicated funding source. This virtual department is strictly an accounting mechanism to inform citizens of how much revenue we are allocating to stormwater and ensures that the funds are solely dedicated to stormwater.
We must commit money from of our general fund for operation and maintenance; we must show our citizens we are serious about addressing the stormwater drainage issues; we must show our friends in Pueblo that we are resolute about how much we are spending; and most importantly, we must make sure, as Council, that we can audit the numbers and prove our expenditures to the citizens.
This “virtual” department or appropriations will give us a baseline to start from. We look forward to working with the Mayor to find funding for operation and maintenance out of the general fund to fulfill our city responsibilities.
— Council will be proposing a Stormwater appropriation department dedicated to stormwater operations and maintenance.
— Council will be proposing a supplemental budget appropriation ordinance out of the 2013 fund balance of $2 million dollars to the Stormwater appropriation department to begin work during this fiscal year on some of the stormwater issues from the 2013 summer flood.
Charter Sec. 3-70(d)(1) now reads, "In any ordinance appropriating funds, the Mayor may disapprove specific line items without disapproving the entire ordinance. After disapproval of specific line items, the ordinance shall be returned to Council to complete the over-ride process as outlined above as to each line item vetoed."
If the Mayor has the power to "disapprove specific line items," Council must have the power to pass specific line items in the first place.
Mayor Bach proposes hybrid Storm Water solution
Today, at the City Administration Building, Mayor Steve Bach convened a meeting to discuss the findings on the scope of the region’s storm water needs from independent engineering firm CH2M Hill.
CH2M Hill was contracted by the City to give a third-party assessment on the scope and depth of the storm water needs figures presented earlier this year by the Regional Storm Water Task Force. Additionally, Mayor Bach proposed the following alternative storm water solution:
Storm Water Hybrid (New Regional Authority, Individual Participant Funding Sources, No Overhead)
New Regional Authority to be formed within El Paso County boundaries by the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and other interested municipalities. Additional municipalities may join in the future.
Each participant will bring its own funding source and receive commensurate spending. Any participant may elect in its discretion to provide a financial or “in kind” grant to any other participant.
The Authority will be led by an unpaid Board of Directors comprised of representatives of the participants. Voting will be proportional based on the impervious service/population.
The Authority will have no staff. The Colorado Springs Executive Branch will administer the Authority based on an Intergovernmental Agreement and as an “in kind” contribution, affording other participants the ability to maximize their spending on capital improvements and avoid overhead.
Projects design, construction, and maintenance will be outsources to the private sector with local vendors receiving preference wherever practical to help create local private sector jobs.
The Authority will formally report quarterly top the public on its progress toward reaching measureable outcomes.
Colorado Springs Capital Improvement Projects and Operations and Maintenance Funding (No New Taxes or Fees for Colorado Springs residents for at least the first half decade)
First Half Decade
Capital Improvement Projects: Repurpose maturing Springs Community Improvements Programs bonds, and add other General Fund cash flow, to issue new bonds subject to voter approval, providing 175 million dollars spendable. Complete 35 million dollars per year comprising approximately 20 million dollars per year for storm water, approximately 11.5 million dollars per year for roads and bridges, approximately 2.5 million dollars per year on public safety infrastructure, and approximately 1 million dollars per year on parks. There will be no new taxes or fees for Colorado Springs residents in the first half decade.
Operations and Maintenance: Dedicated General Fund line items will be provided annually for storm water (approximately 5 million dollars per year) and roads and bridges (approximately 16 million dollars per year). These initial numbers will grow as the City achieves additional efficiencies and sales tax gains.
After the First Half Decade
Capital Improvement Projects: Scaling up the economy, including the City for Champions Regional Tourism Act proposal, will help generate incremental sales tax to fund additional Capital Improvement Projects. If organic General Fund growth is not sufficient trending into the third and fourth years of this plan, then voters may be asked to approve additional funding via a Metropolitan Area Projects model used in Oklahoma City. This potential sales or property tax increase would include a Sunset Provision.
Operations and Maintenance: The City will continue to dedicate General Fund line items for storm water, roads, and bridges.
The Commission has determined that a violation of the conflict of interest provisions of the Ethics Code has not been established by a preponderance of the evidence. Councilman Pico should be advised to recuse himself in all dealings related to Serco. During Budget review, Councilman Pico should recuse himself from any discussion relating to Serco, including line items as they appear on the Appropriations Ordinance for the final budget review.
I still maintain that Councilman Pico has not deliberately created a conflict of interest by being employed with Serco, a company with whom the city intends to contract to assume Fleet Management services. I want to reiterate that I bear no malice [emphasis added] whatsoever to Mr. Pico. But I believe the Code was drafted succinctly with regard to the public’s perception and that it requires all city officials to avoid creating even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Although Mr. Pico’s employment with Serco may be “insignificant,” (rationale was given by the IEC that Mr. Pico only works 20 hours a week with Serco, and he does not work with the department that will provide services to the city) his relationship as an elected official with a city contractor is still arguably indirect and remote.
Secondly, I want to be on record that neither the city attorney nor the IEC contacted either me or my suggested expert witness (former city attorney James Colvin) when it deliberated this matter. This concerns me deeply, as I was specifically asked to provide the names of any witnesses whose input and opinion I thought could support my position. I understand Mr. Pico’s witness (i.e. his employer at Serco) was in fact contacted for input.
The community has heard from numerous Downtown ballpark proponents who believe that a new multi-purpose stadium would serve as a catalyst to revitalize downtown by drawing more people downtown and encouraging housing, retail, commercial and restaurant development in the immediate area. Several recent media reports and informal polls of readers and subscribers indicate a great deal of interest and support for such a project.
The City of Colorado Springs has asked the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and the Regional Business Alliance to participate in a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of building a new “state of the art” multi-purpose stadium in downtown Colorado Springs that could become the new home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. We look forward to reviewing the results of that study when it is complete.
The City will have further updates to the community as relevant information is available.