Officials to Construct First EcoPlex Solar Garden
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- School District 51 officials voted to set aside land for Xcel Energy to build on, and the power house plans to construct a community solar garden that should help hundreds in energy savings.
The soon-to-be EcoPlex Garden will be the first on the Western Slope for the energy provider, and officials are eager to get started.
This idea came down from the state level, when representatives passed the Community Solar Act and construction is expected to start at the end of this month.
“Its great for the community, the city of Grand Junction and our tax payers,” said Kathy Portner, member of the Economic Development Sustainability Division of the City of Grand Junction. “Being subscribers to the community garden will help us save money in our monthly bills.”
City officials say they've had solar panels installed on several of their building for years, but having an offsite location will help them use this kind of green technology more easily.
“There are certain sites and certain buildings where it’s just not practical to put solar panels on,” said Portner. “So having the ability to just buy into an offsite facility is beneficial to anyone who might want to participate.”
For the first time, Xcel is allowing these kinds of gardens in this part of the state.
Located right by the 29 Bridge in Grand Junction, the 10 acre field will house close to 6,600 solar panels on land owned by School District 51.
“Xcel energy is the ultimate off-taker of the energy that is produced and it’s just about 3.5 million kilowatts annually,” said Eric Anderson, energy manager for School District 51.
Knowing just how beneficial solar-systems are, Anderson says the district agreed to accommodate the garden for at least the next 20 years and in end, providing them with a ton of reserves.
“District 51 stands to earn credits or build savings in the amount of $52,000 a year, and over 20 years, could have 1 million dollars in credit savings,” said Anderson.
School district 51 is also a subscriber as well. They already save about 17 percent of energy costs by using their own solar panels, but this new garden should bump that 25 percent.
It's not just big companies that can subscribe to this future, state-of-the-art facility. Any area resident who uses Xcel can get on board.