Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association developing 8-megawatt solar project

Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association this week announced that it is working with a Tennessee company to develop an 8-megawatt solar project on two Weld County sites.

The project, which is slated to be online by the end of this year, will provide enough power to serve 1,300 households and will account for about 1.5 percent of the 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity distributed by PVREA annually.

PVREA serves about 38,000 homes and businesses in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties.

The project requires about 35,000 solar panels and about 100 acres of undeveloped land. Part of the project will be located on about 60 acres near PVREA’s Carey substation east of Fort Collins. The other piece of the project will be on about 40 acres near PVREA’s Windsor substation on the west side of Greeley.

The power generated will be tied into PVREA’s distribution system and contribute to the local power mix for all members.

“It’s going to help our members out and help keep rates stable as well as add to the diversification of our portfolio,” PVREA chief executive Jeff Wadsworth said Friday.

Tennessee-based Silicon Ranch Corp. will own and operate the project, with PVREA signing a 20-year deal to purchase all power generated from the sites. While Wadsworth said PVREA could look into renewing the deal when it ends, he said it’s likely that Silicon Ranch will disassemble the solar farm and sell or develop the land. That’s because solar panels generally degrade over time, and PVREA will likely be able to tap into newer, more efficient technology at that point.

Wadsworth said that over the life of the deal, PVREA will pay about 15 percent less for power from the project than it pays for its base-load power now.

PVREA member services manager David White said the project will bring PVREA’s mix of renewable energy to about 27 percent of its total distribution counting both locally generated power and power purchased from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.