Colorado is one of six states that will be home to utility scale solar projects via the Solar Energy Zones initiative from the U.S. Department of Interior. The 285,000 acres across 17 sites include more than 16,000 acres in the San Luis Valley on the Western Slope.
The Obama Administration’s hope is that fast tracking the large PV projects will lead to smarter utility-scale solar development on America’s public lands and grid improvement.
The largest project in the San Luis Valley is Antonito Southeast, located on the border with New Mexico in Conejos County and covering 9,712 acres. A second site in Conejos County, Los Mogotes East, is 2,650 acres in size.
Rounding out the Colorado-based project sites is DeTilla Gulch site in Sagauche County spanning 1,064 acres, and in Alamosa County the Fourmile East parcel cover 2,883 acres.
Opponents of the pending large scale solar developments in the San Luis Valley have been vocal in supporting smaller distributed power generation instead, including the San Luis Valley Renewable Communities Alliance.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the that four sites could hold up to 4,054 megawatts of solar energy installations – equal to four large coal-burning power plants.
Environmental concerns have trimmed the final plan for the San Luis Valley projects by more than 4,000 acres from the sites.