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Adding solar: New collection site for Colorado Springs Utilities near completion

Renewable energy
Posted at 7:01 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 07:00:10-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Renewable energy in Colorado Springs is months away from a major boost. A massive new solar collection site at the south end of El Paso County is on a fast track for completion by the end of the year.

The Palmer Solar project sits on 500 acres. When completed there will be more than 220 thousand solar panels collecting energy from the sun. Construction started in the spring.

"So, it's nine months to go from an empty field with cows grazing to tens of millions of dollars of solar energy that's going to serve the CSU load," said Steve Ihnot with solar development company, Juwi.

More than 50% of the panels still have to be installed. Crews plan to have work complete by the end of the year.

A third company called Duke Energy Renewables will own and operate the facility. The ownership arrangement brings tax rebates. Duke Energy can access tax benefits not available to utilities.

"Monetize those tax credits and pass those saving onto Colorado Springs and Utilities to their customers." Duke Energy Renewables Vice President Chris Fallon said.

Within the next two to three years solar additions will take Colorado Springs Utilities up to 20% renewable energy production.

"Integrating every asset that we have in a way that makes sense for our customers," Colorado Spring Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin said.

He says it is important to have a balanced plan as energy resources transition. While considering renewable options, planners also look at reliability and affordability for Springs Utilities customers.