Sheep to manage vegetation at solar project in Colorado


Solar developer Guzman Energy achieved regulatory approval from the Delta County Board of Commissioners for a limited use permit to install and operate an 80 MW project on land in Southern Delta County, Colorado. The commissioners unanimously approved the Garnet Mesa Solar project.

Once complete, the project will produce more than 194,000 MWh of electricity annually, equivalent to the energy demand of about 18,000 Colorado homes. Electric utility Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) will directly purchase a portion of the energy produced by the facility, and Guzman Energy will offtake the rest of the supply to serve other wholesale customers.

The project is expected to create 300-400 construction jobs, generate an estimated property tax value of $13 million over 15 years, and help DMEA achieve about 20% local power generation.

The project now heads to the next phases of engineering and procurement planning, followed by construction resource and timing details announcements.

“With the Commissioners’ approval, we are one step closer to securing a significant amount of local affordable energy. Together with Guzman Energy, we are driving rate stability for our members,” said Kent Blackwell, Interim CEO and Chief Technology Officer, DMEA. “We are confident Garnet Mesa Solar will be a premier example of agriculture and energy co-existing together.”

The site that will house the array is currently irrigated and utilized for grazing, and will continue to be used in that manner, said Guzman Energy. About 1,000 sheep will remain on the site to manage vegetation and graze on native plants.

The Garnet Mesa Solar project is a collaboration between Guzman Energy, DMEA, and Citra Power. Citra’s team brings experience in renewable energy development, technical engineering, EPC management and oversight, portfolio acquisition, and wholesale power procurement. It has worked on thousands of megawatts of now-operational solar, energy storage, and wind projects.

“We are thrilled with the Delta County Board of Commissioners unanimous decision to approve the limited use permit to install and operate the Garnet Mesa Solar project. “We are grateful for the time and attention the community and County officials gave to the process,” said Robin Lunt, Chief Strategy Officer, Guzman Energy.

Colorado has installed 2.2 GW of solar to date as of Q1 2022, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). About 5% of the state’s electricity comes from solar, and about $4.9 billion has been invested in the technology in the state thus far. Colorado is home to 330 solar companies and about 7,400 employees.

SEIA projects 3.5 GW of solar will be installed over the next five years in Colorado. It is a very sunny state with over 300 days of sunshine a year and a rapidly growing population, making it a prime candidate for increased solar demand.

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