Garfield County Solar Energy Projects

Rifle | Glenwood Springs | Carbondale | Blue Lake

These projects were all featured in the 2010 Solar Homes Tour

May residence, Rifle

May residence, Rifle
ENERGY STAR home built by Roaring Fork Habitat for Humanity, with solar panels (on roof, not visible) installed by Sunsense Solar of Carbondale.

Back row, from left, Brent Fitzke, AmeriCorps member; Jennifer Dority, Sierra Club volunteer; Jake Baker, Habitat volunteer; Travis and Stephanie May and their daughter, Elizabeth, homeowners.
Front row, from left, J.P. Strait, Habitat building superintendent; Crystal Wanner, Habitat coordinator of volunteers; Andy Lietz, Sunsense solar engineer and Habitat board member.

Gran Farnum Printing

Gran Farnum Printing, 1526 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs
10 kW solar electric system installed on roof of printing plant by Sunsense Solar of Carbondale, saves $165 per month. Gran Farnum moved to this location in 2007 and carried out extensive energy efficiency measures, including upgrading insulation from R-7 to R-40. This is the first solar-powered printing plant on the Western Slope.

From left, Steve Haines, solar consultant for Sunsense Solar; Gran Farnum, owner; Doug Didonato, general manager; Kent Zeltner, owner of Morning Star Solar in Edwards.

Kurtz residence, Glenwood Springs

Kurtz residence, Glenwood Springs
3 kW solar electric system installed by Atlasta Solar of Grand Junction. This home, built in 2007, is well-insulated in the walls and attic, with radiant heat floors. The lower level is a separate apartment, adding to the overall efficiency of the structure.

From left, Kent Zeltner, owner of Morning Star Solar in Edwards; Alice Gustafson, Sierra Club volunteer; Brian Kurtz, homeowner.

McDill residence, Spring Valley

McDill residence, Spring Valley
6 kW solar electric system installed by Sunsense Solar of Carbondale. The grid-tied solar system added only about 1.7 percent to the cost of the home after subtracting rebates from Holy Cross Energy and federal tax credits, and is saving the family $175 a month on electric bills.

From left, Jim Austin and Lois Veltus, solar tour visitors; Mike and Penny McDill, homeowners; Gayle Wells, Sierra Club volunteer; Daniel Whitney, solar consultant for Sunsense Solar; and Kent Zeltner, owner of Morning Star Solar in Edwards.

Schlein-Ellison residence, Missouri Heights

Schlein-Ellison residence, Missouri Heights
4 kW solar electric system on three pole mounts, installed by Sol Sierra and Marty Schlein. The grid-tied system offsets all the electrical needs of the couple's home and Marty Schlein's professional woodworking shop for nine months of the year; electric bills in the winter run from $22 to $35.

From left, Mary Lou Pfeiffer, solar tour visitor; Amelia Potvin, CORE; Kent Zeltner, owner of Morning Star Solar in Edwards; Maggie Pedersen, Sierra Club volunteer; Marty Schlein, homeowner.

Brand residence

Brand residence, CarbondaleSolar electric and solar hot water collectors on roof, bi-facial solar awning on south wall, many energy efficiency features in this straw bale home.

Homeowner Carrie Brand, in green shirt, talks with solar tour visitors.

Third Street Center, Carbondale

Third Street Center, 520 S. 3rd St., Carbondale
52 kW solar electric system in multiple arrays across the roof of this reclaimed elementary school, installed by SoL Energy of Carbondale; extensive energy efficiency measures included in building renovation; solar thermal system to be installed fall 2010. Download the 3rd Street Center Energy Fact Sheet (1.3 MB, 2 pgs)

From left, Solar Energy International staffers Dan Giese, registrations and program assistant, and April Clark, communications and marketing director; and behind the tables at right, SEI Director Johnny Weiss and Jeff Dickinson, Third Street Center board member and sustainability team leader for CLEER, Clean Energy Economy for the Region.

Electric utilities set to meet or exceed renewable energy standards

Public policy drives investments in wind, solar, biomass

August 7, 2013

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Two of the three electric utilities serving Garfield County—Xcel Energy and Holy Cross Energy—are poised to meet state requirements for renewable energy, while Glenwood Springs Electric already exceeds its standards by a factor of three.

Utilities have been making substantial gains in renewable energy over the past nine years following statewide voter approval of Amendment 37 in 2004. A-37 set an initial target of 10 percent renewable energy by 2020, only for investor-owned utilities.

When Xcel Energy quickly topped the 10 percent threshold, state legislators increased the target to 20 percent in 2007, and boosted it to 30 percent in 2010, still aimed at a target date of 2020.

The 2007 legislation also added municipal electric utilities and rural electric co-ops, setting their renewable energy standard at 10 percent by 2020.

Meanwhile, Garfield Clean Energy has set its own target of 35 percent renewable energy countywide by 2020.

Utilities will do much of the heavy lifting on this target in order to meet state-mandated renewable energy goals, leaving local utility customers to invest in another increment of renewables to achieve the 35 percent goal.

Glenwood Spring Electric
at 32.5 percent

While the requirement for municipal electric utilities is to provide 10 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2020, Glenwood Springs Electric provided 32.5 percent from renewable energy in 2012, a mix of 26.5 percent in wind power and 6 percent from federal hydropower systems in western Colorado.

The utility has boosted renewable energy in its power mix with aggressive purchases of wind power over the past decade from its wholesale supplier, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

“Currently we do not have any plans to purchase additional wind energy, but we are always looking at potential projects,” said Robin Millyard, Glenwood Springs public works director.

The city electric utility also has 10 commercial and 24 residential grid-tied solar installations generating about 74 kilowatts of power, Millyard said, and is looking for more.

Glenwood Electric’s solar rebate fund has $41,400 of unreserved cash for 2013, enough to offset 33 kilowatts of installed capacity.

The rebate of $1.25 a watt is for commercial systems up to 10 kilowatts and residential systems up to 6 kilowatts within Glenwood Electric’s service area.

For information on reserving a rebate, call CLEER at 704-9200

Xcel Energy plans to reach 24 percent by 2018

Colorado’s renewable energy standards vary for different types and sizes of electric utilities, and the bar is highest for the state’s two investor-owned utilities, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy.

They are required to provide 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
Xcel Energy reached 14 percent renewable energy in its Colorado portfolio in 2011, and plans to hit 24 percent by 2018.

The company is making a big push for new wind and solar resources this year. It is seeking state regulatory approval to buy at least 550 megawatts of wind power for Colorado customers through 2016, a move that will save more than $7 million in fuel costs per year once it’s completed.

The company is also seeking Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approval of a demonstration project to harvest beetle-killed trees and gasify them, in what is called a forest biomass power plant, to produce up to 2 megawatts of electric power.

“Xcel Energy would gain valuable experience concerning the potential use of biomass for future electricity generation, and we would be able to determine whether this type of technology is a reasonable and promising way to address the health of our Colorado forests,” said David Eves, president and CEO of Xcel Energy in Colorado.

Xcel is also before the PUC with its 2014 renewable energy plan. The plan calls for adding 42.5 megawatts of solar power, with an emphasis on small-scale onsite solar and community solar arrays.

Small-scale solar systems owned by more than 15,000 Xcel Energy customers in Colorado are already generating more than 160 megawatts of solar electricity. Costs for these installations were offset by the utility’s Solar*Rewards program.

Holy Cross Energy at 9 percent, investing in innovative pilot projects

Holy Cross Energy is presently at 9 percent renewable energy for its power mix, including the wholesale electricity it purchases from Xcel Energy, according to Chris Hildred, special projects engineer.

He noted that the controversial Senate Bill 252, passed this year by the Colorado Legislature, raised the renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2020, but only for very large rural electric co-ops that serve more than 100,000 customers.

With about 55,000 customers in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, Holy Cross is exempt from the legal standard. But the utility plans to meet the standard anyway.

“We’ll meet 10 percent without any question, and under our current plans we expect to be at 25 percent by 2020,” Hildred said. “The board has an internal goal of being at 20 percent by 2015. We have been working to meet that goal for eight to nine years.”

Meanwhile, SB 252 will give Holy Cross credit towards its renewable energy standard for its pioneering work in capturing and burning coal mine methane to produce electricity.

A pilot-scale plant in Somerset is producing 3 megawatts of power, with plenty of potential for expansion, he said.

Holy Cross is also planning to buy power from a 10 megawatt forest biomass plant in Gypsum, being built by Eagle Valley Clean Energy, which should be on line by 2014.