Highlands Ranch: a Planned, Family-Friendly Community Open for Solar Lighting
Purchased by the Mission Viejo Company in 1978, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, has grown to become one of the largest master-planned communities in the United States, rivaling California’s Mission Viejo in size. In 1991, Highlands Ranch had around 17,000 residents. Since then, the population has exploded, growing to over 100,000 residents today.
With a low unemployment rate of 3.4% and a high median income of over $100,000, Highland Ranch is a prosperous community with lots of potential. Like other Colorado cities, almost 60% of employed residents work in management, business, science, and arts sectors. Highlands Ranch has been named one of the best places to raise a family in Colorado, and has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top places to move in the United States.
Building on Solar Energy Use with Municipal Outdoor Lighting
Though the city receives a lot of snow per year, it also receives an above average number of sunny days per year. As a result, solar power offers strong possibilities here. For instance, Colorado’s Community Solar Legislation, which recognizes that local communities can benefit from the further development of renewable energy and related sustainable efforts, provides Colorado residents and commercial entities with the opportunity to purchase credits from a subscription-based solar energy generation facility.
The Highlands Ranch Community Association (HRCA) has also made plans to install a community “solar garden.” Thanks to Colorado’s Community Solar Legislation, the solar garden will save the HRCA an estimated $1.9 million over the next 20 years.
Proud of their sustainable efforts, the HRCA strives to continually improve their long-term energy efficiency and become a “greener” community. Following the completion of their large Energy Savings Project, the HRCA saves around $173,000 per year in utility costs. The HRCA has improved recycling programs, added new efficient water heating systems, and even installed solar panels on the city’s main recreation centers; additionally, it has added more energy-efficient lighting to municipal facilities, including installing timers on exterior lighting so they only come on during specific times.
Sol’s commercial-grade solar lighting uses scheduled dimming like this, keeping streets and parking lots bright during the evening and early morning, and saving energy with dimmer light during the quiet parts of the night—not to mention operating completely off the grid, thanks to solar power. With a quick upgrade to reliable solar lights, the HRCA could save even more money on utility costs.
Boasting more than 25 parks, Highlands Ranch would also be an ideal candidate for solar park lighting. Properly illuminated parks can encourage and extend park use into the evening and contribute to an improved sense of safety. The opportunities to continue to improve solar initiatives are huge, and Highlands Ranch is ready to do so.