Grand Junction, CO

Energy developer minimizes Grand Junction solar farm’s visual impact

Matt Whittaker

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Solar panels cover a growing area at Jack’s Solar Garden in Longmont.Werner Slocum / National Renewable Energy Laboratory / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Grand Junction, Colo.) The company developing a solar farm in Grand Junction, on land now used as an illegal trash dump, plans to minimize the visual impact of the energy park.

SolarGen, a Denver-based renewable energy developer said it would use solar panels designed to never exceed 16 feet in height for the project, located on Colorado State Land Board property along the frontage road north of Interstate 70, east of the Grand Junction Motor Speedway.

“The site will also be engineered to include landscaping and visual screening to minimize the visual impact,” the company said. 

In August, the Mesa County Board of County Commissioners approved SolarGen’s Nannie Blain Solar Park project, a 48-megawatt solar power facility with solar panels on about 150 acres of a 324-acre parcel leased from the state. The company expects to bring the project online in 2025.

“The property was selected by SolarGen because it has no adverse impacts on agriculture or water supply, two critical infrastructure resources that are already impacted by climate change,” said Carmine Iadarola, SolarGen’s president and founder. “The land is currently desolate and is illegally being used as a trash dump by trespassers.”

Commissioners gave SolarGen a permit allowing the developer to conduct further studies necessary to finalize project details. The company says the development will bring 150 new construction jobs to the county, make a $55 million infrastructure impact and generate more than $100,000 for the land board, whose funds are distributed to Colorado schools.

The project comes as solar development expands in Colorado, amid state goals to lower 2025 emissions by at least 26 percent, 2030 emissions by at least 50 percent and 2050 emissions by at least 90 percent from 2005 levels.

In the second quarter, Colorado added 32 megawatts of solar generation capacity, bringing the percentage of the state’s electricity that comes from solar to nearly 6%, according to numbers from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Total installed solar capacity rose to 2,268 megawatts from 2,236 during the first three months of the year. That’s enough solar installed to power more than 440,000 homes, up from less than 430,000 the prior quarter, and ranks Colorado 13th in the nation for installed solar capacity.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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