Platte River Power Authority begins permitting for 150-MW solar project

May 13, 2021

by Peter Maloney
APPA News
May 13, 2021

Platte River Power Authority has initiated permitting for a 150 megawatt (MW) solar power project in Weld County, Colo.

Platte River Power Authority is undertaking the Black Hollow Solar project with BHS Solar, a subsidiary 174 Power Global. The public power utility intends to use the electrical output from the solar project to replace its share of the output from the coal-fired Craig Unit 1, which is scheduled to retire in 2025.

The solar project, if approved by Weld County planners and commissioners, would be located northeast of Black Hollow Reservoir and span between 1,000 and 1,400 acres, with the final location and layout determined through a review of physical, environmental and land-use constraints and feedback from numerous stakeholders, including neighbors, state agencies, and county leaders.

The solar project would provide work for an estimated 320 full-time workers during construction and up to 450 workers during the peak of construction and then require eight to 10 permanent positions to manage the solar farm after it enters service.

Under the agreement with Platte River, 174 Power Global will build, own and operate the Black Hollow Solar project and sell the electricity under a long-term power purchase agreement to Platte River beginning in 2023. Energy would be delivered to Platte River’s owner communities in Colorado’s north Front Range through a substation to be built adjacent to existing Platte River transmission lines.

Platte River Power Authority serves Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colo. 

“The addition of the Black Hollow Solar project will take us approximately halfway toward our goal of providing 100% noncarbon energy,” Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River Authority, said in a statement. “This is one of many significant steps we’re taking to achieve our Resource Diversification Policy, and we’re excited to move forward with construction.”

When the Black Sparrow Solar project is completed, it will give Platte River Power Authority more than 200 MW of solar capacity when combined with its 30-MW Rawhide Flats solar project, which entered service in 2016, and its 22-MW Rawhide Prairie Solar installation, which began operation – along with 2 megawatt hours of battery storage –in March.

Platte River also receives about 230 MW of wind energy under long-term power contracts.

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