Namaste Solar will begin construction next month on a 3.5 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar array for the City of Loveland, Colorado. The Foothills Solar and Substation project is the first electric generating facility in the United States to receive approval through the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) Alternate Project process. The array will replace the Idylwilde hydroelectric facility, which was damaged during a major flood event in September of 2013.
The 2013 Colorado Front Range Flood, which brought catastrophic damage to fourteen Colorado counties, resulted in property damage estimated at over $1 billion. The Idylwilde Dam, originally commissioned in 1925, sustained significant impact from the flooding and was deemed a total loss and later demolished.
In 2014, the City of Loveland was awarded $9,068,018 in FEMA grant funding to construct an alternate project to replace the dam. $5.1 million of that funding will be used to cover the construction of the 3.5MW single-axis ground-mounted solar array on 52 acres located west of the city, purchased by Loveland Water and Power. The remaining $4.1 million will be used to construct a substation on the site, built in conjunction with the Platte River Power Authority, Loveland’s generation and transmission provider.
Gretchen Stanford, Customer Relations Manager for Loveland Water and Power explained, “We are extremely excited that we were able to navigate the FEMA Alternate Project process and that our customers are getting more for their dollar than we anticipated. This was a very creative way for us to reach the Colorado renewable energy standard requirements of 10% renewables by 2020 as well as put off capital expenditure we anticipated in future years.”
The new solar array replaces the 900 kW hydroelectric facility and represents a significant step forward for the City of Loveland. City officials deemed solar the most cost effective alternative to replace the dam. Since the Foothills Solar Project will be completed by the end of the year, the City of Loveland will also be able to take advantage of the three-times multiplier for solar-generated renewable energy credits under the state’s renewable energy standard.
“We’re excited to partner with the City of Loveland to make this project possible,” said Heath Mackay, Co-Owner and Project Development Manager-Southwest Region for Namaste Solar. “The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their decision to replace one renewable resource with another and the new solar array represents a significant leap forward in technology.”
Construction on the solar facility is due to begin in mid-June. Loveland Power and Water will host monthly time-lapse video construction updates at cityofloveland.org/foothills.