The 5.3-megawatt solar plant began producing electricity in December, and will provide one-third of electricity needs on the Foothills Campus, about three miles west of the university’s main complex. Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, or FRV, built the project in two phases on 30 acres with the second phase completed at the end of 2010.
Updated by Ann Rascalli
The project is one of the largest at a U.S. university, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The plant will reduce GHG emissions by more than 6 million kilograms – the equivalent of removing more than 520 cars off the road each year.
“Colorado State continues to be a pacesetter in employing green solutions,” said Colorado State President Tony Frank. “This is a practical example of our commitment to renewable energy and the public-private partnerships that are crucial to making these projects successful.”
The CSU Foothills Campus solar power system is funded by a partnership that includes regional utility Xcel Energy and renewable energy developer FRV. The project, owned and operated by FRV, uses a Power Purchase Agreement structure that leverages tax credits and incentives. The PPA structure enables CSU to purchase electricity produced by the plant at a fixed rate for 20 years, providing CSU with protection against future rate increases without any upfront costs to the university.
Colorado State’s project, part of the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards program, received a rebate to offset construction costs. This project generates renewable energy credits that Xcel Energy purchases in support of Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, which requires large utilities to generate 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Phase two was constructed by Global Energy Services, an independent service provider. GES installed the solar panels on racks manufactured by Macapisa. The inverters that convert DC electric power to AC power for both phases are provided by Advanced Energy, a local Fort Collins company. All of the solar power plant features photovoltaic modules by Trina Solar.