Colorado city to add 5 MW via PPA pilot program


Fort Collins' new Solar Power Purchase Pilot Program, also known as SP3, is aimed at encouraging the installation of local solar systems to help meet the city's renewable energy commitments under the Colorado Renewable Energy Standard, according to Brian Janonis, Fort Collins Utilities executive director.

Writing in Fort Collins newspaper The Coloradoan, Janonis says solar projects from the program will meet some 25% of Fort Collins' renewable energy goal for 2015. The locally produced renewable energy also supports the city's Climate Action Plan and Energy Policy greenhouse gas reduction goals while supporting local investment, he adds.

SP3 will add approximately 5 MW of PV systems to the community, quadrupling its current solar capacity.

New program includes FIT model

"The basis of SP3 is a fixed-price, long-term purchase agreement between Utilities and solar system owners, with systems being installed on local commercial customers' buildings," Janonis says. "The energy output of the solar system will go directly to the community's electric grid ‘in front of the billing meter.' This structure, commonly known within the solar industry as a feed-in-tariff, or FIT, model, is the first of its kind in Colorado and one of only a handful in the country."

Following the first round of applications, Fort Collins Utilities is in the process of finalizing commitments for the first round of selections of solar systems. The deadline for the second round of applications is Feb. 2.

The city also offers small-scale solar rebates for residential and business customers. While 2013 funds are committed, new funding will be available in 2014, according to Janonis. In addition, Fort Collins Utilities offers financing for renewable energy projects with terms up to 10 years on amounts up to $15,000.

Fort Collins likewise has a Community Solar Garden in the works, with site review underway. The program aims to expand small-scale renewable options for customers who do not have favorable sites for their own rooftop systems. In the initial phase, the garden size is estimated at 250 kilowatt hours with possible expansion in later years.

The Fort Collins utility is also working with regional electricity generation and transmission provider Platte River Power Authority to increase the amount of renewable energy with a number of other initiatives. In addition to SP3, Platte River recently signed an agreement for a new 30 MW wind farm in eastern Colorado.

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