County eyes Rifle solar array
June 10, 2016
Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday preliminarily approved investing more than $300,000 in a solar array at the Rifle Airport.
The price of $313,119 would buy 873 solar panels in the No. 4 Array at the airport, which is connected to the Holy Cross Energy grid, according to a memo to commissioners from County Engineer G.R. Fielding. The county would own 98 kilowatts coming from the array, which is operated by the Clean Energy Collective.
The county would pay $3.20 per watt under terms of the 20 year contract, which would pay for itself in 14 to 15 years thanks to off-setting Holy Cross energy credits, Fielding said. Those credits could be applied to electrical costs generated by any other county building or structure, he said.
The 98 kilowatts, for example, would cover the yearly electrical costs at the county's Public Works facility near the Aspen Business Center, Fielding said.
Kevin Morse, vice president of sales for the Clean Energy Collective, told commissioners the company was founded in Carbondale in 2009 and quickly sold out the first three solar arrays at the Rifle Airport.
The company handles all the operations and maintenance for the arrays, Morse said.
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Commissioners Patti Clapper and George Newman both supported the investment, though Commissioner Michael Owsley wondered about Pitkin County's impacts on Garfield County. Pitkin County already "farms out" a lot of housing to Garfield County and is now farming out its energy needs to the downvalley county, he said.
Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, however, pointed out that the need to save energy is a valleywide concern and the investment is a valleywide solution.