Colorado’s largest solar array and battery storage facility of its kind was the focus on Wednesday of a public ribbon-cutting celebration at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs. The project is 95% complete and is scheduled to reach commercial operation this fall.
The Solar Array and Battery Storage Complex at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley is the result of a partnership between Mass.-based Ameresco, local electric cooperative Holy Cross Energy, contractor Sunsense Solar and Colorado Mountain College, which is leasing college-owned land just south of the Spring Valley campus to Ameresco to operate the project.
“Here in the rural West, we have long understood we are stronger when we work together,” said CMC President and CEO Carrie Besnette Hauser. “This collaboration between CMC, Holy Cross and Ameresco is a shining example of that ethos as we work together to reduce our carbon emissions and protect these amazing mountain landscapes that we all love from the very real threat of climate change. We must all do our part.”
The solar array is a 4.5 MWac grid-tied project (13,500 solar modules, many of which are on trackers) that sends electricity directly to HCE’s distribution system. The array can supply renewable solar energy to approximately 1,000 homes. The complex also includes 5 MW of battery storage, which can be discharged during times of peak-demand for HCE.
The renewable energy efficiencies of this project will allow HCE and Colorado Mountain College to both achieve goals they have set. It will further HCE’s goal of increasing the renewable energy it provides to its members to 100% clean energy sources by 2030. And it will move CMC towards its 2050 carbon neutrality goal, since HCE will retire renewable energy credits on the college’s behalf, in a quantity sufficient to offset 100% of the electricity use of three CMC campuses at Aspen, Spring Valley and Vail Valley.
“The Holy Cross Energy/Colorado Mountain College solar-plus-storage project is a great example of a win-win renewable project,” said Sam Whelan, HCE’s vice president of power supply. “Not only does the project assist both HCE and CMC toward their renewable and carbon goals, but it also provides us with the flexibility to operate an increasingly renewable portfolio. To top it all off, we’re able to do this in a financially responsible way that saves money for all our members.”
“Our partnership with Colorado Mountain College and Holy Cross Energy on this impressive solar and battery energy storage project that utilizes a unique model of collaboration enables all sides to simultaneously finance the feat and achieve individual sustainability targets,” said Ameresco EVP Louis Maltezos. “This forward-thinking model not only advances Colorado’s renewable energy goals but ushers in a new era of sustainable collaboration for the state.”
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