Solar project completed to replace dam west of Loveland

LOVELAND — The city of Loveland said Tuesday it has completed a 3.5-megawatt solar project, built to replace the Idylewilde Dam, which was damaged in the 2013 Colorado Front Range Flood.

The solar project is the first electric-generating facility in the United States to receive approval through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Alternate Project process.

In 2015, Loveland was awarded approximately $9 million in funding to construct the Foothills Solar and Substation project, with $5.1 million used to construct the solar array. The remaining funds are being used to construct an electric substation on the site, built in conjunction with the Platte River Power Authority. The full scope of the project, including the substation, is expected to finished this spring. The solar facility is operational.

Boulder-based Namasté Solar designed and constructed the solar array.

The solar array replaces the 900-kilowatt generation capacity of the dismantled dam in Big Thompson Canyon, about 10 miles west of Loveland. The project uses solar-tracking technology provided by Array Technologies of Albuquerque, N.M. The solar modules move on a single axis throughout the day, tracking the movement of the sun across the horizon to maximize power output. The system, consisting of 10,332 solar modules is expected to produce 6,813 megawatt hours of clean electricity annually, enough to power the equivalent of 574 Colorado homes.