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Platte River Power Authority and 174 Power Global (174PG), through their subsidiary BHS Solar, LLC, initiated the permitting process with Weld County planners to consider a utility-scale solar generating installation.
The proposed Black Hollow Solar project, if approved by Weld County planners and commissioners, will be located northeast of Black Hollow Reservoir. The project will span between 1,000 and 1,400 acres, with the final location and layout being determined through a review of physical, environmental, and land-use constraints, and feedback from numerous stakeholders, including neighbors, state agencies, and County leaders.
When complete, the Black Hollow Solar project will deliver approximately 355,000-megawatt hours (MWh) of energy to Platte River’s system each year, enough to power approximately 43,000 homes. Energy from the project will replace output from Platte River’s share of the coal-fired Craig Unit 1, which will retire from service in 2025.
“The addition of the Black Hollow Solar project will take us approximately halfway toward our goal of providing 100% noncarbon energy,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River. “This is one of many significant steps we’re taking to achieve our Resource Diversification Policy and we’re excited to move forward with construction.”
An estimated 320 full-time workers will be on the job throughout the construction period and up to 450 during the 12 to the 14-month peak construction period. Additionally, eight to 10 permanent positions will be needed to manage the solar farm when operational. Tax revenues, payments to landowners and local purchases of supplies and services will also contribute to Weld County’s economy.
“A project of this size and scope illustrates Weld County’s support of a diversified energy economy,” said Rich Werner, CEO of Upstate Colorado. “Both traditional and renewable energies support the growth of our population and the regional economy, and we look forward to working with our partners through the process to ensure public benefit to the entire region.”
Per the agreement with Platte River, 174PG will build, own and operate the Black Hollow Solar project and sell the electricity it generates to Platte River beginning in 2023 under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA). Energy will be delivered to Platte River’s owner communities in Colorado’s North Front Range through a substation to be built adjacent to existing Platte River transmission lines.
Combined with the 30 megawatt (MW) Rawhide Flats project that began delivering energy in 2016, and the 22 MW Rawhide Prairie Solar installation (with 2 MWh of battery storage) that began commercial operation in March, the 150 MW Black Hollow Solar project will elevate Platte River’s solar generating capacity to more than 200 MW. Platte River currently receives power from approximately 230 MW of wind energy under long-term PPAs.
“174 Power Global is pleased to have been selected by Platte River to develop this exciting project and solidify our commitment to supporting Colorado’s low carbon energy future,” said 174 Power Global President Henry Yun, Ph.D. “We look forward to working with the Weld County community, leadership, and stakeholder groups to help bring this project to fruition, ensuring that it will be well-designed and promote good stewardship of the environment and surrounding land while realizing the benefits it will bring as a reliable source of sustainable energy for the next 25+ years.”
The project application was made as Weld County leaders work to update ordinances to better evaluate solar energy siting and development. New rules could be adopted months before any project permits would be approved and issued. Leaders with Platte River and 174PG said the proposed project will clearly align with the updated rules, once adopted.
“We will remain engaged with county leaders because we ultimately want to develop a project that benefits everyone for years to come,” said Jason.
Platte River Power Authority is a not-for-profit, community-owned public power utility that generates and delivers safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and financially sustainable energy and services to Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont, and Loveland for delivery to their utility customers. For more information, visit www.prpa.org.