Carlos and Maria save with solar energy

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Why this rural Minnesota family subscribed to a community solar garden.

Carlos and Maria Guzman were new to clean energy when they got a knock on their door from a community solar garden representative early this year.

The couple, who live in Cold Spring, Minnesota (population 4,000) bought their rambler in 2010 and now live there with their son, Lupito, plus many pets. Maria works at the local brewery and Carlos is a retired veteran. 

Saving money with the sun

As first-time homeowners, they were shocked on receiving their electricity bill the first winter in their home. “We usually have lots of appliances plugged in, but we really hadn’t expected such a huge cost.” The 1976 rambler relies entirely on electric baseboard heating during the winter and air conditioning units during the summer, which means electricity bills are nearly always very high.

When a CleanChoice Energy employee stopped by the Guzman home to share information about their community solar subscription program, Carlos and Maria were skeptical at first.

“What we really wanted was to save money. That’s what’s most important. I’m on a fixed income and we have a daughter in college. There are always lots of bills to pay every month,” shares Carlos.

They agreed to subscribe to the community solar garden program after learning they could save 10 percent on their electricity. “CleanChoice explained we’d have two bills each month, but that our Xcel Energy bill would show a credit for the electricity we made from the sun. So it just made financial sense for us.”

Neighbors catch on

Carlos and Maria are hopeful they’ll continue to save money with their community solar garden subscription.

“We’ve noticed lots of solar panels going up everywhere around town but we didn’t think it had anything to do with us” says Carlos, “But as long as we’re saving money, it’s a smart choice.”

Fresh Energy enthusiastically supports policies that increase access to community solar gardens in under-resourced communities. In the transition to clean energy, we’ll be ensuring no one is left behind.