The bulk of new solar power coming online in Colorado in the next few years will come from one new project, Community Energy’s 120 megawatt Comanche Solar project. Community Energy announced the approval today (March 4). The new project, which will be built near Pueblo and close to Xcel’s Comanche Generating Station is slated for completion in 2016.
When completed the new project will be the largest PV project East of the Rocky Mountains, according to Community Energy. In fact, the company said the project more than double the amount of solar in Xcel’s network of large-scale solar generation in Colorado, which currently stands at about 87 megawatts. It’s also the largest slice of 170 megawatts of solar projects that the utility submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
"This large-scale generating facility provides the advantage of renewable energy at a price that is right," said David Eves president and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado. The price of power from the array is closer to that from other energy sources partly because the project is near a major sub-station and is being built as one large project.
However, concerns remain that Xcel is attempting to reduce the amounts it reimburses for residential solar power even as it pushes for more large solar. Edward Stern, president of the Colorado Solar Industries Association, for instance, told The Denver Post that Colorado’s still need the option of installing solar on their homes.
"This project is part of our vision begun in 2010 to bring utility scale solar at a competitive price to Front Range Colorado," said Eric Blank, president of Community Energy Solar. "We were drawn to Pueblo County and the Comanche sub-station as a great combination of high solar insolation, a welcoming community with open land, and a strong interconnection point with existing infrastructure close to Front Range load centers."
The project consist of more than 450,000 monocrystalline PV modules on single-axis trackers located on roughly 900 acres of under-utilized grazing land surrounded by existing and future industrial land, Community Solar said. It added that the sight already has gentle slopes and will require only minimal grading.
Pueblo is excited about the project calling it a big “shot in the arm,” among other things. ”The solar array that will be constructed by Community Energy is a huge win for our community," Pueblo County Economic Development Director Chris Markuson said. "This project demonstrates that renewable energy is ready for prime-time, and Pueblo County is perfectly positioned to be the center of utility-scale renewable energy production in Colorado. The clean energy produced by solar arrays in Pueblo is both profitable and sustainable, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”Tweet