Fort Collins, Colo. July 13, 2017 - Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) announced today the construction of the Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm – the largest community solar farm in the region - near the Larimer County Landfill in Fort Collins, Colorado.
In partnership with GRID Alternatives Colorado, a non-profit organization based in Denver, Colorado, PVREA is constructing a 1.95 megawatt solar array that will house nearly 6,000 panels and provide solar subscription opportunities to PVREA members. The project is part of a statewide initiative launched by the Colorado Energy Office designed to demonstrate how the low-income community solar model can be developed to address the unique needs of rural utility service areas and their members.
The unique focus of this particular community solar project is the connection between the Cooperative and the community. The array will be segmented with portions assigned for non-profit organizations and income-qualified members. Through a partnership with GRID Alternatives and their support from the Colorado Energy Office, approximately 35% of the community solar farm will be dedicated to members who are income qualified.
“Solar energy has predominantly only been available to those households who can afford the startup costs. This project allows PVREA to be able to offer a solar subscription to any member, regardless of income level or location in the Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties,” PVREA President and CEO Jeff Wadsworth said.
Members whose household income is at or below 80% the median income in their perspective county will be able to apply for the income-qualified portion of the array. Other PVREA members who are not income-qualified will be offered subscription options on the remaining 65% of the array.
In addition, subscriptions specific to members that are non-profit organizations will be available.
“While we’ve done community solar projects in the past, this array provides opportunities for non-profit organizations we serve, such as schools, fire stations and other non-profit organizations that make up the foundation of our community, to have access to renewable energy without the need for the costly capital investment,” Wadsworth explained.
The construction of the solar array also brings a connection to the local community within PVREA’s membership and to the general public. GRID Alternatives focuses on workforce development through the construction of their community solar farms and provides hands-on experience for volunteers. Throughout the month of August and early September, GRID Alternatives and PVREA are hosting volunteer opportunities for organizations, PVREA members and other interested individuals to participate in the construction of the array.
“This project is largest in GRID Alternatives' history and, once complete, will include the most capacity for residential low-income subscribers than any other solar project in the country,” said GRID Executive Director Chuck Watkins. “GRID is excited to be working with PVREA to expand our impact in Colorado by providing increased access to affordable solar for a variety of subscribers and job training opportunities through our barn-raising approach.”
The Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm will be located on nine acres of land south of the Larimer County Landfill on Taft Hill Road near Fort Collins. Working closely with the Landfill, PVREA signed a long-term lease with Larimer County.
“We appreciate Larimer County’s partnership with PVREA to provide a location for the Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm. The unique site allows PVREA to readily interconnect the array to a rapidly growing part of our system to provide solar energy for all PVREA members, and gains a valuable use of the land for Larimer County,” Wadsworth said.
“Larimer County Solid Waste is happy to be part of this partnership with PVREA and is looking forward to this opportunity to be a part of the future electrical needs for our citizens that will be provided through this solar project. Together we can make a difference,” Larimer County Solid Waste Director Stephen Gillette commented.
The Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm will be complete by mid-autumn and will generate enough energy to power 300 typical PVREA households. In total, an estimated 300 members will be able to directly participate in the solar farm and offset a portion their bill with locally generated electricity for the 20-year life of the project. This is the third community solar farm completed by the Cooperative, along with their three solar facilities and one currently in construction. Learn more about this project and the Cooperative’s other renewable energy projects at www.pvrea.com/programs/renewables.