Udall takes tour of Rifle solar array
RIFLE, Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall was impressed during a tour of the city of Rifles solar array system during a brief visit in western Colorado on Wednesday.This is cool stuff this is exciting, the Colorado senator told public officials and members of the press during a tour stop at the citys West UMTRA ( Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action) site, where the solar array panels were installed in early 2009.The system on the west side of the city began operating in January 2009 and is a 1,720-kilowatt system that covers a total of 12 acres at the citys Energy Innovation Center site which runs between Interstate 70 and Highway 6 & 24.The array system on the west side is expected to provide about 60 percent of the power needed to run the wastewater treatment plant during the daytime.Another solar array system on the east side of the city will provide 90 percent of the power needed for the raw water station on the east side of the city.Rifles solar array systems are two of the largest in the state of Colorado, according to city staff.The zero-emission systems being installed by SunEdison, a company headquartered out of Maryland, are being operated under a 20-year contract. The combined systems are expected to offset more than more than 152 million pounds of carbon dioxide that would have been emitted during the production of electricity from fossil fuels. The systems do not cost anything to the citizens of Rifle.Mayor Keith Lambert said many people have been surprised when they hear about Rifles forward energy endeavors and the solar array panels.The typical response I hear is In Rifle? Lambert told Udall with a smile and a proud one at that. Even Gov. Bill Ritter has expressed his approval.Hes very pleased were taking these steps, Lambert added.City staff presented a rendering of what a proposed energy village might look like in Rifle.Garfield County Commissioner, Trsi Houpt, was also on the tour and said she felt Rifle was the right place to start implementing solar energy technologies.This is one of the better places to have this, Houpt said. As we continue to develop natural gas and oil shale, I think Rifle is the perfect area for this.Udall expressed his approval of what the city of Rifle was doing with renewable energy and its work with other communities in Garfield County through the Garfield County New Energies Communities Initiative, where he attended a meeting following the tour.This turns my crank, Udall said. This is the stuff of the future. We want to work with you.
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