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Solar garden a go in Grand Junction

Ground will be broken on Grand Junction’s solar garden project soon. It will likely resemble the solar garden seen above.
Submitted photo |

SCHOOL DISTRICT ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Fun fact: According to School District 51 energy manager Eric Anderson, Mesa County’s schools are considered to be “the most energy efficient district amongst large school districts in the state.”

Twelve schools spanning all grade levels host more than 10,000 roof-mounted solar panels, amongst other energy-saving projects.

Grand Junction is growing a garden, though it’s not the flower kind. Soon ground will be broken on 10.5 acres of land on 29 Road and D 1/4 — to install a two-megawatt solar garden.

According to School District 51 energy manager Eric Anderson, the garden will have 6,666 solar panels, and District 51 will subscribe to 40 percent of the energy produced there. The garden is also to be built on district land and leased from the schools for 20 years. The project is a partnership with EcoPlexus (an energy company out of California — http://www.ecoplexus.com/en) and it will be built as part of Xcel Energy’s 2012 community solar garden reward program.

“It’s the first of its type in Mesa County,” Anderson said. “Our system is going to be 2,000 kilowatts.”



Construction will commence any day now, and the garden will likely be completed sometime in June or early July.

Anderson expects District 51 to receive approximately $60,000 in energy savings yearly, plus yearly rental income totaling about $12,500.



Other entities subscribing to energy produced at the garden include the City of Grand Junction, Mesa County, Grand Junction Housing Authority and Alpine Bank.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Kathy Portner, who works for the City of Grand Junction’s economic development and sustainability division.

Portner noted that EcoPlexus will lease a little less than an acre of city land near the District 51 site for project landscaping.

“We will have about 23 percent of power generated by the solar garden,” she added. “Our estimate of first-year savings in credits we’ll receive from Xcel Energy is about $90,000.”


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