Change in Garfield County land use code would encourage solar power |

Change in Garfield County land use code would encourage solar power

Staff reportGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Garfield County officials took the first step necessary Wednesday night to allow solar power generation facilities to be constructed within their friendly confines.The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a text amendment to the county land use code to allow solar farms and establish standards for such facilities. The land use code prohibits uses that aren’t specifically defined as allowable. Solar power generation facilities weren’t on the list of allowed uses.The planning commission recommended that the county commissioners define solar power generation facilities as a possible use.”We’re trying not to preclude these projects where appropriate,” said Garfield County Planning Director Fred Jarman.Specific projects will still require a special use permit, he said.The proponents of a solar farm in Carbondale sought the text amendment allowing solar power generation facilities in Garfield County. A team led by the Aspen Skiing Co. wants to erect a solar electric facility on the campus of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School.Solar panel arrays would cover about 28,800 square feet, or one-half acre. The application says it would be the largest system of its kind on the Western Slope, although observers said it would be small compared to systems being developed elsewhere in the West.One of the main buildings on the CRMS campus would be powered by the electricity produced by the system. The rest of the electricity would be purchased by Xcel Energy for distribution through its grid.The Skico is prepared to invest about $1 million in the system.The application for a special use permit for the solar facility as well as the text amendment allowing solar power generation facilities will be reviewed by the Garfield County Commissioners Dec. 3.

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