Boulder County became the largest subscriber to date in Jack’s Solar Garden, a 1.2 megawatt solar garden in Longmont when the Board of County Commissioners approved a $376,050 contract on Tuesday.

Jack’s Solar Garden is a first of its kind solar farm that’s studying which crops grow best underneath and around the solar arrays, the shade from which could lessen water demand, and therefore bolster soil conditions, research shows. Any crops grown within the solar garden will also be distributed into the community as a community-supported agriculture program.

“Jack’s Solar Garden is a family-owned business striving to provide social and environmental benefits back to our community and while becoming a national model for how agriculture and solar can co-exist on the same land,” the founder of Jack’s Solar Garden, Byron Kominek, said.

In partnering with the National Renewable Energy Lab, Colorado State University, and the University of Arizona. Jack’s is set to become the largest commercial agrivoltatics system in the U.S.

“The conditions in Colorado I think are pretty ideal for agrivoltaics, where you get increases in both crop yield and photovoltaic solar (power production),” Jordan Macknick, lead energy, water and land analyst for NREL, said. “The hotter and drier you are, the more the panels can help.”

As a participant in Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program, when the solar garden is completed in 2020, Jack’s will be able to provide electricity subscriptions to residents, businesses, and government entities.

The Audubon Society of the Rockies is also partnering with Jack’s Solar Garden to establish its largest bird habitat here in Colorado around the perimeter of the solar array.

“Boulder County sees Jack’s Solar Garden as the kind of business that exemplifies the innovative, environmental, and social spirit of Boulder County, and we are thrilled to be a part of its launch,” said Susie Strife, Boulder County’s Sustainability Coordinator.

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