• Installation of community solar garden to be discussed Aug. 11


    LPEA Renewable Energy Generation meeting will feature Department of Energy

    DURANGO, Colo. – The possibility of a 4-5 megawatt community solar garden in Ridges Basin (Bodo Canyon) is the topic of La Plata Electric Association’s quarterly Renewable Energy Generation meeting Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011, 1-2 p.m. The meeting, to feature representatives from the Department of Energy, will be held in the multi-purpose room at LPEA’s Bodo Park headquarters (45 Stewart Street), Durango, and is a continuation of the cooperative’s Free Information Series.

    “The Department of Energy owns the land in Ridges Basin where the old uranium tailings pile is located,” said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services. “In other sites similar to this they have worked with communities to install large solar photovoltaic systems, and we have been following their exploration of using their site here in Durango to do something similar.”

    The DOE recently completed the site’s environmental assessment (EA), studying the impacts of installing a photovoltaic array above the tailings, which are buried deep beneath the ground. At the LPEA Renewable Generation meeting representatives will discuss the EA findings, which from preliminary reports indicate the viability of proceeding with a community solar garden. The DOE representatives will also discuss “next steps” with those interested in the PV project.

    “We are in support of such a community solar garden,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO noting that the site’s proximity to existing transmission lines could help facilitate an interconnection with the LPEA system. “We are not, however, necessarily interested in building the project ourselves, but will work closely with the solar developer selected to see if it can be a win-win for everyone.”

    Traditionally with large distributed generation systems, such as the hydro project at Lemon Dam, LPEA negotiates a Power Purchase Agreement to buy electricity generated by the system. Other options for large solar gardens, such as panels being sold to community members on a subscription basis, have also been utilized in other areas of the country.

    “It’s too soon to speculate about the final project,” said Munro. “No matter the outcome, however, LPEA will be actively involved.”

    LPEA’s quarterly Renewable Energy Generation meetings were established in February 2010 in response to the growing interest in local renewable projects. The program expanded to a regular, broader-based Free Information Series at the cooperative. To learn about future events, visit www.lpea.coop, or request email alerts via Constant Contact (sign up at www.lpea.coop).

    Reservations for the Renewable Energy Generation meeting are not required, but appreciated, as refreshments will be served. For further information, or to RSVP, contact Sue Maxwell directly at 970.382.7170 or smaxwell@lpea.coop.

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, contact LPEA at 970.247.5786.

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