Lafayette plans solar garden ‘panel-raising’

LAFAYETTE – The city of Lafayette is hosting a “panel-raising” celebration at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, at the site of a new solar garden that is under construction on the east side of town.

The 1-megawatt facility is slated to be operational by the end of the year, and is being incorporated into Xcel Energy Inc.’s Solar Rewards program. The facility, owned by Community Energy Solar LLC and being built by Bella Energy Inc., sits on 12 acres of city-owned land at 12624 Colorado Highway 7, near Lafayette’s water-treatment facility.

Lafayette committed to a 20-year contract, donating a lease on the land for the project and in exchange receiving energy credits on its Xcel bill for 40 percent of the power produced. Five percent of the power produced will be dedicated toward reducing the monthly energy bills of 25 to 30 Lafayette residents by up to 50 percent.

Community Energy Solar regional development director Sam Sours said his company will sell the rest of the energy credits to Boulder County businesses that have Xcel as their electricity provider. Companies can sign up for contracts of varying lengths, although Sours said he couldn’t divulge the cost of the credits. Sours said the project is fully committed.

Community Energy Solar is based in Pennsylvania, with offices around the country, including Boulder. Sours said Louisville-based Bella Energy, in addition to building the project, will serve as the primary operations and maintenance provider.

The city of Lafayette’s participation in the project extends its commitment to solar power. The new project is next to a city-owned solar garden already in use. In addition, the city has solar arrays at city hall, the recreation center and the library, among others.

“It’s gratifying to see our vision, efforts and focus continuing to expand in the solar arena,´ said Curt Cheesman, Lafayette director of recreation, senior services and facility management, in a press release.

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