5:30am

Thu April 4, 2013
Business Report

Sun Shines On Second Solar Farm For Poudre Valley REA

Northern Colorado will soon get a second solar farm, thanks to a partnership between Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association and Carbondale-based Clean Energy Collective.

Erin O'Toole talks with NCBR's Jeff Nuttall about a new solar farm being planned in northern Colorado for Morning Edition

The plan calls for Clean Energy to fund and build the array, then sell the panels, which remain on the site. Poudre Valley REA will distribute the electricity generated by the project to its customers.

Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall says it’s not unlike Community-Supported Agriculture programs.

"These solar farms give consumers such as renters and people with ‘sun-challenged’ properties the opportunity to participate in renewable energy without having to build a system of their own," he says.

The solar panels will sell for $729 each, more expensive than a year ago. But PVREA says customers who buy in will get a larger credit on their bills over the life of this project, compared with the first project.

Interview highlights…

Why is Poudre Valley REA building another solar farm?

"There was so much interest in the first solar farm that the electric distribution cooperative decided to build a second array. Lots of folks who wanted to participate in the first project were not able to do so since it sold out so quickly. Poudre Valley REA and Clean Energy are hoping to give those people a chance to participate the second time around."

What is the scope of this second project?

"It’s a $1.5 million project in terms of sales, considering there are 2,000 panels. Clean Energy President Paul Spencer doesn’t know exactly how much it will cost to build because they haven’t found space for the farm, nor has it been engineered yet.

Clean Energy partnered with Poudre Valley REA for the first solar farm, which began operating in August, so this isn’t Clean Energy’s first rodeo. The new farm would actually represent their 19th project."

How much electricity will the new solar farm produce?

"It will generate 500,000 watts, which is four times the amount of electricity generated by the first solar farm. It’s going to add to the nearly 300 megawatts of solar thermal and solar electric systems that are already in place at 10,000 homes and businesses statewide, according to the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. The executive director of the solar industry association told us that he expects to see more of these solar farms in Northern Colorado and statewide."

PVREA’s website says the project’s overall environmental impact is equal to taking 17,000 auto miles off the road.

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