A 2-megawatt solar power plant to be built at Colorado State University’s Foothills Campus this fall will generate enough power to meet more than 10 percent of the campus’s electricity demand, the university said Monday.
The 15-acre array of solar panels is expected to be one of the largest solar power systems at a U.S. university when it’s done. Completion is expected before year’s end, the university said.
Foothills Campus, where CSU’s Global Health Research center and other laboratories are located, is about four miles northwest of the main Fort Collins campus adjacent to Horsetooth Reservoir.
The system will be owned and operated by renewable energy developer Renewable Ventures, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of Madrid-based company Fotowatio, which is owned by GE Energy Financial Services, Landon Group, and Qualitas Venture Capital.
Renewable Ventures was formerly known as MMA Renewable Ventures and was involved in the 2-megawatt solar power plant at Denver International Airport.
CSU offered a long-term lease for the pasture land the plant will sit on and has a 20-year contract to buy power at a fixed rate 8 cents per kilowatt hour from the solar power plant.
Brian Chase, the university’s facilities director, said CSU currently pays about 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity provided by Xcel Energy Inc., but the university expects power prices to rise in the next few years.
“As energy costs go up, we figure we’ll save close to $1 million over the next 20 years” through the fixed-price contract for sun-generated power from the plant, Chase said.
Xcel bought 3,000 renewable energy credits associated with the power through its Solar*Rewards program. Xcel needs the credits to help the utility meet the state mandate that it get 20 percent of its power supplies from renewable resources by 2020.
At the end of the 20-year term, the university has an option to purchase the solar panels.
AMEC plc, an international engineering and project management company based in London and traded on the London Stock Exchange at symbol AMEC, will build the solar array. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.