Two new solar arrays at Holy Cross Energy’s headquarters in Glenwood Springs are helping the power co-op offset the energy use and carbon emissions associated with its office operations.
Together, the solar arrays offset about 44 percent of current electricity consumption on the Holy Cross campus.
“The new solar arrays are us walking the talk when it comes to renewable energy,” said Lisa Reed, power supply supervisor at HCE, in a prepared statement. “We felt this was a necessary step in our progression toward a clean energy future.”
Since announcing its seventy70thirty campaign in 2018, the co-op has set aggressive goals for its power supply, aiming to use clean and renewable resources to supply at least 70 percent of the power provided to members and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with its power supply by 70 percent from 2014 levels, all by 2030, a news release states.
One of the solar arrays, located in the field directly south of HCE’s campus, is unique in that the 554 solar panels are not permanently affixed to the ground. The unique solar panel racking system is made by Powerfield Energy, a new technology and process for installing ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems. It can be disassembled and redeployed in a different location using the same parts and materials, the release says.
Volunteer HCE employees and community members built the unusual array similar to a collective “barn raising.” The volunteer team was able to assemble the ground-mounted installation in just under two days. Because of its unusual design, the Powerfield array can be put together with no major construction, specialized tools or training. A video produced by Powerfield of the barn raising can be found at holycross.com/powerfield-solar-array.
The Powerfield project was funded in part from a grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, a Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit dedicated to energy efficiency. The Randy Udall Energy Pioneer Grant is among CORE’s most competitive, provided to innovative energy efficiency projects, the release states.
“It’s certainly nice knowing that we have the ability to move the Powerfield array if necessary,” Reed said. “It allows us to maintain the future flexibility of that land use. Ultimately this could also be a good test case and showcase for future arrays in the valley with similar land concerns or other unique situations such as ski resort snowmaking operations, construction sites and agricultural needs.”
The second new solar array is a traditional rooftop design and can be seen prominently from Highway 82. The 268 panels operate at a higher wattage than previous panels, making them more efficient overall. Carbondale-based solar designer and installer Sunsense was chosen for the installation.
To celebrate the completion of the first two campus solar arrays, HCE hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 15. A third solar array, to be completed later in 2020, will allow HCE to offset more than 75 percent of its annual electric usage in Glenwood Springs.
Holy Cross also is partnering with the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District and global entity Renewable Energy Systems on an 18,000-panel solar farm near Woody Creek. Pitkin County commissioners gave the project their blessing in November. The co-op is expected to harness enough energy from the five-megawatt plant to power an estimated 1,000 homes.