Green Campuses

Colorado State-Pueblo To Install Megawatt Solar Electric System

Colorado State University-Pueblo soon will be the home of a solar electric system in excess of one megawatt, one of the largest such systems for an education facility in the United States. Under an innovative arrangement with Black Hills Energy (formerly Aquila) and BP Solar, the system is estimated to contribute at least 10 percent of the University's electricity needs. Installation of the ground-based solar array begins this summer with full operation scheduled for late fall.

"We view this as an extension of the commitment the university and the CSU system have made to renewable and sustainable energy," said President Joseph Garcia. "Because this solar array will be visible from new facilities being constructed to support our new athletic programs and the planned development on our eastern campus border, it will serve as a strong statement about the university's commitment to supporting sustainable energy resources."

The CSU-Pueblo solar system will generate enough solar-generated electricity to power 225 homes and will abate about 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide. The campus installed a smaller 6 kilowatt solar system last year on its Technology Building.

The 4,200-student school will purchase the electricity generated by the solar array from BP Solar, which will install and operate the system. Black Hills Energy will purchase the solar on-site renewable energy credits generated from the system from BP Solar. The system will be constructed on the east side of campus between the physical plant complex and the softball fields on a strip of land that couldn't easily serve any other purpose.

As part of its Solar Rebate Program, Black Hills Energy, which serves 750,000 utility customers in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming, will provide a $200,000 upfront rebate incentive for the installation of the solar system. The program helps Black Hills Energy meet Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard, which requires that five percent of Black Hills Energy's electricity sales be generated from renewable sources.

With new facilities being brought on-line during the next six months, including a new $11.2 million student recreation center, CSU-Pueblo estimates the completed project will generate savings in utility costs and help absorb the cost of increased demand.

"In short, this project will help control the University's utility costs as prices and usage increase, promote the use of sustainable resources, help satisfy Black Hills Energy's state mandates, and allow BP Solar to bring a major solar project to Southern Colorado," Garcia said.

Pueblo non-profit Smart Growth Advocates (SGA) connected the partners last year.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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