A unique partnership between the City of Arvada and SunEdison is underway which will generate solar power, reduce carbon emissions, and save taxpayer dollars.
In October, SunEdison began construction of a solar photovoltaic power system at the City-owned Ralston Water Treatment Plant located at the corner of State Highway 93 and W. 66th Avenue. The system will provide approximately 88% of the electric power needs of the Plant. The solar power production site should be fully operational by December 31.
The photovoltaic system will be built, owned, operated, and maintained by SunEdison; all generated electricity will be purchased by the City of Arvada for use at the Plant. The site will cover approximately 6.5 acres with ground mounted solar panels. SunEdison’s cost to build the system is $4,000,000, which will be paid back through a combination of rates paid by the City of Arvada (15%), Federal tax credits (40%), and Xcel Renewable Energy Credits and rebates (45%).
There is no upfront cost to City of Arvada taxpayers; power will be purchased with existing electricity budget funds. The City will pay a set rate of 5.8 cents per kWh with a 2% annual increase over the 20 year term of the agreement. This compares to 6.5 to 8.2 cents per kWh currently charged for electrical power. From a budget standpoint, the deal creates stability in the price of electricity and a minimal annual increase which is particularly noteworthy given the estimated increases for future costs of energy. First year savings are anticipated to be between $10,000 - $15,000.
The Plant will continue to be tied to the regular electric grid; there will be no interruption or change of power load.
Perhaps most importantly, there is a tremendous environmental benefit. The photovoltaic system will produce electricity on-site rather than using grid power, which is almost entirely coal-generated. The use of this facility will eliminate 39.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years, equivalent to the annual emissions from 3,863 cars or heating 1,817 homes.
As the City of Arvada continues to pursue practices that have a positive impact on the environment and community sustainability, strategically used solar power plays a vital role. Through this public private partnership with SunEdison, the City will not only be making significant impact on one of its most power-intensive responsibilities (water treatment) but will also be decreasing cost while maintaining the same level of service.
Arvada will soon be one of the only cities in Colorado to have a system of this size and will truly be leader by example for residents, business, and other communities.