NEW CASTLE — The deadline to construct a solar garden through Clean Energy Collective has passed, and discussions of a site with a private landowner would mean the town of New Castle would not be involved, according to Town Administrator Tom Baker.
The CEC had bid on an auction being held by Xcel Energy for a grant to construct a solar garden in New Castle, which required a site of at least 4 acres to accommodate a minimum of 500 kilowatts.
“The deadline has passed, but Xcel is doing another round of auctions for arrays this fall,” Baker said. “There’s a possibility (CEC) will come back to Garfield County to look at another site, but we don’t know if it will be New Castle or not.”
In late July, the town had proposed a site in the north part of the Castle Valley Ranch subdivision to put 1,600 solar panels. Residents would have been given the opportunity to buy panels through the garden instead of installing them on the roof of their homes and receive discounts on their energy bills from Xcel Energy.
However, a number of homeowners near the proposed site protested, saying the solar “power plant” would decrease the value of their homes. More than 100 people attended a public meeting to discuss the issue in what became an emotionally charged meeting.
Both the town and CEC agreed to withdraw the site for the project and instead began looking at private property on the west end of town.
“If the site is located on private property, then we will not be involved — it will be between the property owner and CEC,” Baker said.