Garfield County towns to benefit from community solar gardens

Alex Zorn

Construction is underway on one of several new solar farms in western Garfield County, this one in Parachute.

Garfield County will soon be home to several new solar garden projects, as part of a larger effort to expand solar projects along the Interstate 70 corridor on the Western Slope.

While three of the locations are in Mesa County, three will be located in Garfield County, with a 100-kilowatt (kW) garden in Parachute and another, much larger 1-megawatt (MW) farm west of Silt to be completed this winter.

Both area projects are already 100 percent subscribed. Two additional community solar projects to be located in Garfield County and Grand Junction are seeking subscriptions and will be built later in 2019.

Jon Sullivan, vice president of project development for Denver-based Pivot Energy, said the 100kW garden in Parachute is still under construction and is located on land owned by the Garfield Housing Authority.

Pivot Energy partnered with Standard Solar to create the additional 10.3 MW of community solar gardens along the Western Slope.

The electricity being generated will offset the individual units at the senior complex, and while the total varies for each unit it could credit an individual bill for up to $20 a month, said Sullivan.

While the 100 kW solar garden was donated to Garfield Housing Authority, the two other gardens to be built in Garfield County, including the 1 MW garden west of Silt and another 2MW garden to be built in Garfield County in 2019, will serve Xcel Energy-based subscribers.

Sullivan said the project west of Silt, which is slated to break ground in January and will likely finish construction by March, is already 100 percent subscribed and subscribers to the garden are all based in Garfield County.

Subscribers include the town of Carbondale, the Battlement Mesa Metro District and the Roaring Fork School District, among others. Sullivan said the electricity provided will be equivalent to about 250 homes.

Though the Parachute and Silt projects have been finalized, Sullivan said they are still searching for land and subscribers for the additional 2 MW garden. But he hopes to be in front of the Garfield County commissioners to sign conditional use permits by early 2019.

Clean Energy Economy for the Region’s Erica Sparhawk spoke to how affordable solar energy is becoming, as CLEER and other organizations advocating for clean energy look to bring more solar energy opportunities to the area.

“As renewable costs come down, these opportunities will grow,” Sparhawk said.

She said they are working to finalize the location for the 2 MW garden.

She added that some local Garfield County towns, including New Castle, Silt and Parachute, are signed up for one of the solar gardens in Palisade.

While cost savings vary, community gardens provide solar energy for subscribers who sign up for 20 years and receive a select number of panels that will generate solar energy to offset a percentage of the subscriber’s electricity.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.