Power & Energy

Montezuma County’s Solar establishment bound by hurdles

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With a population of over 25,000, Montezuma County is the southernmost county of the state of Colorado. The county began its solar plant project in 2015 by mapping out the land suitable for construction after discussions were conducted regarding the amount of sunshine and the elevation point in the county and an agreement was made to invest in renewable energy.

However, problems arose when companies started fighting over access to the solar grid. The Natural Resource Director James Dietrich has allowed access to one solar company, EDF Renewables who is in the planning stage. The plant will be built on 1000 acres of property and the capacity will be kept between 50 and 150 megawatts. But the proper construction cannot begin as there is no availability of a power purchase agreement with a secured utility.

Empire Electric Association which buys its 95 percent power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and therefore the county officials are on negotiations with Tri-State which might take up to two years. Tri-State on the other hand is facing criticism on the fact that a 5 percent cap on local solar powers is too restrictive, due to which the Delta Montrose Electric Association and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative are requesting to opt out of Tri-State. In January, 2019, an authority of 17 state senators and 35 state representatives have passed an agreement asking Tri-State to reduce its prices and that people should have access to cheap renewable power. Tri-State has not commented on this issue as of yet.

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