Denver, CO

Denver investing $26 million in solar grid, car chargers

David Heitz

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Denver is about to harness the formidable power of the mile-high city’s blazing sun.

The Denver City Council will vote Monday on investing $26 million with McKinstry Essention, LLC to erect solar panels on property owned by the City and County of Denver.

The city plans to create a solar power grid that will serve Denver Housing Authority properties, city and county buildings, low-income residents, and others. The power will be cheaper than what’s offered by Xcel Energy, according to a city report.

“The solar arrays are expected to generate over 144 million kWh of renewable electricity, avoiding over 75,000 tons of CO2 over the project life (equivalent to planting more than 625,000 urban trees),” the report explains.

Solar car chargers planned

The contract even includes building solar charging stations for electric vehicles, a cutting-edge benefit for a world-class city. “The solar carports symbolize equitable clean energy action for the community,” the report highlights. “Denver’s approach is widely recognized for leadership in energy and sustainability.”

Denver earned the distinction of No. 4 most sustainable destination in the world, the only place in North America, by National Geographic Traveller. Denver also was recognized by American Cities Climate Challenge as a top 10 city for local government renewable deals for 2020.

McKinstry Essention, LLC would manage the solar grid for 25 years. Thirty percent of the energy would serve low-income households, according to the report.

Solar industry will create jobs

Denver’s investment in solar energy will mean educating its youth and adult workers about careers in sun-generated power.

“During the construction phase of the project, the operator will provide community engagement and workforce benefits that include, but are not limited to, paid workforce training programs and employment opportunities; visits in partnership with Denver Public Schools to present a solar curriculum, STEM learning opportunities, and a solar installation basics training program for students; a community "solarthon" event to include hands on installation opportunities and a post installation celebration for the local members of the community at one of the project sites,” the report explains.

The Renewable Denver Community Solar Initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, the mayor’s office vowed in 2018. Citywide renewable energy will be online by 2030, according to the city.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

Denver, CO
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