These are the RealVail archived files. Please visit our new site:
MM_XSLTransform error.
Error opening
A consortium called Helios Energy wants to build a $900 million solar power plant near Pueblo that could be the largest in the nation.
A consortium called Helios Energy wants to build a $900 million solar power plant near Pueblo that could be the largest in the nation.
Courtesy of Flickr 
Proposed Pueblo solar power plant could be largest in nation
At up to 300 megawatts, facility would dwarf largest on Western Slope -- 2MW array in Rifle
By David O. Williams

March 4, 2009 — News this week that Colorado could one day be home to the nation’s largest concentrated solar power plant — a facility of at least 200 megawatts near Pueblo — comes as welcome news to an energy sector faltering right along with the rest of the economy.

But some critics say continuing to artificially mandate renewable energy simply drives up the price of coal- and gas-generated electricity, which still provides the vast majority of power in Colorado.

According to a story in Sunday’s Pueblo Chieftain, an energy consortium called Helios Energy Partners met last week with Pueblo County commissioners to discuss a $900 million deal to locate a facility on several thousand acres at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Xcel Energy, which is seeking to expand its solar portfolio to adhere to state law requiring that 20 percent of the utility’s power come from renewable sources by 2020, would be the likely customer for the Pueblo facility.

Pueblo’s facility would increase by nearly tenfold the state’s current solar-power generating capacity, which according to energy analysts stood at about 24.5 megawatts at the end of 2008, including 9 megawatts being generated by a San Luis Valley facility that is the state’s largest.

It’s estimated a 200-megawatt solar power plant would generate power for about 60,000 homes.

“Xcel Energy has just issued a contract for a new 25-megawatt solar facility, and the PUC (Colorado Public Utilities Commission) has approved Xcel’s proposal to acquire at least 200 megawatts and as much as 600 megawatts utility-scale solar generation with energy storage,” Colorado Energy News executive editor David Hill said in an e-mail.

“Helping Xcel fulfill that order is the impetus behind the solar project at the Chemical Depot east of Pueblo,” he added.

By contrast, the town of Rifle on Interstate 70 in western Colorado just cranked up the new 2-megawatt on-site array that powers its water and wastewater treatment facilities. That’s currently the largest solar-power facility on the state’s Western Slope.

The push for more solar power rankles some power providers such at the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), the state’s largest coop with more than 130,000 customers — many of them in the decidedly non-rural environs of suburban Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Former Republican state senator and current IREA spokesman Bill Schroeder on a recent episode of Rocky Mountain PBS’s “Colorado State of Mind” said state renewable mandates are unfairly driving up power prices for all consumers. He also questioned the science behind global climate change.

President Obama last month signed the $787 billion stimulus bill in Denver to highlight the state's growing new-energy economy.

The White House estimates Colorado will see 59,000 jobs — many of them in the renewable-energy sector — saved or created by the stimulus package and its $130 million in direct federal spending on green-energy projects.

But Schroeder’s boss, IREA general manager Stanley Lewandowski, told the Rocky Mountain News last month that weaning the state off coal and gas is impractical, expensive and in the long run will have no real effect on the global climate.

“If you take all the fossil-fuel plants in Colorado and shut them down, in two weeks China will replace all the carbon dioxide you’ve cut with its new plants,” Lewandowski said last month.



Comment on article  1 Comment on "Proposed Pueblo solar power plant could be largest in nation"


Don Hillis — March 6, 2009

Good article on the Pueblo solar power plant. I thought you might be interested in a new technology called thin-film photovoltaic solar modules. This thin-film can be rolled out on a big sheet like a window shade. It is a whole lot cheaper than solar panels and will allow quick construction of solar power plants. If you're interested, check out Signet Solar's website and the article below out of the San Jose Mercury News.

By the way, I read your article on the demise of the Rocky Mountain News. It is sad to watch newspapers around the country fail. I can't figure out if computers are the culprit or is it the total failing of the world economies. Also, I would never refer to you as an idiot for studying journalism. You are one of the smartest people I know and I'm behind you 100%.

Uncle Don.

Biz Buzz: Company takes over solar plant
Construction of the proposed Topaz Solar Farm for the Carissa Plain will now be supervised by an Arizona-based firm
San Jose Mercury News
An Arizona company is taking over construction of a 550-megawatt solar plant that is proposed to be built in eastern San Luis Obispo County.
First Solar, a Tempe-based manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic solar modules, purchased the project portfolio of OptiSolar, a Hayward-based solar panel manufacturer. That includes the Topaz Solar Farm, which is planned for the Carissa Plain and is scheduled to open in 2011 and be fully operational in 2013. It still needs approval from state regulators.
OptiSolar recently laid off 300 people when it couldn’t obtain financing for its factory and projects.
The $400 million, all-stock deal could result in 400 new jobs in California, according to a statement by First Solar.
The firm also will take over the negotiations from Opti-Solar to complete an additional 1,300 megawatts of solar projects. And it secured rights to 210 square miles of property from OptiSolar, where solar plants could be constructed across the desert Southwest, mostly in California.
Taking over OptiSolar’s projects as well as its development team “is our next logical step to delivering multi-gigawatts of solar power to U.S. utilities over the next several years,” said Mike Ahearn, First Solar’s chief executive.
In January, OptiSolar said it would lay off 300 of its 600 employees when it couldn’t get any more financing to continue with its plans. The First Solar deal will allow OptiSolar “to focus on manufacturing and technology and keep that moving forward in a tough economy,” OptiSolar spokesman Alan Bernheimer said.
— San Jose Mercury News



Comment Form Info  Comment Information
RealVail encourages you to post comments on our articles and blogs. Name and email are required for monitoring purposes. Your email will not be published and will not be distributed to any 3rd-party. Abusive, obscene, profane, threatening, libelous or defamatory comments are prohibited. By posting a comment, you agree to this policy and our terms of use. To report an abusive posting, please contact us.

Please enter the case insensitive letters you see in the left box to prove that you are human and indeed reading this page. This prevents spam and malicious attacks. Click the refresh icon to refresh words.

To comment or contact us, please visit our new site at Snow Report Ticker

more new stories...

more new stories...

more resort guides...