Small solar project powers about 30 homes for Empire Electric

In early February Empire Electric added the 72-kilowatt Red Wagon solar project to its renewable portfolio.

A new small solar plant recently began generating enough electricity to meet the power requirements of about 30 homes on the lines of Tri-State member co-op Empire Electric Association (Cortez, Colo.).  The 72-kilowatt Red Wagon Energy project was constructed on a 1-acre site, within the town limits of Mancos, Colo., with the support of Tri-State board policies 115 and 117 for a 10-year contract term.

This new distributed generation facility is owned and operated by Red Wagon Energy. Its estimated annual output of 138,000 kilowatt-hours is being sold to Empire Electric through a power purchase agreement and is fed directly onto the local power grid.

“The power from this solar plant won’t go to any specific homes and it won’t alter anyone’s electric bill,” explained Doug Sparks, Empire’s member services manager. “However, this break-the-mold project introduces a shift, allowing a small renewable power plant to provide power to the grid, bolstering Empire’s capacity and renewable energy portfolio,” he added.

The Red Wagon project is the third renewable project that Empire has contracted with Tri-State under the G&T’s board policy 115/117 agreements.  The southwest Colorado co-op also receives 20 kilowatts of output from a small community solar garden in which its consumers can subscribe for small blocks of renewable power, and it has a power purchase agreement for a 240-kilowatt hydroelectric plant located at a water treatment facility in Cortez.

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