“The utilities are on the hook to comply with the standards, and if the incentives are not high enough to promote a project, then they need to modify their programs as necessary to spur growth,” says Lyng of the Governor’s Energy Office. “Even in the absence of federal incentives, the utilities still need to comply.”

SunEdison Solar Plant

Earlier this year, the San Miguel Power Association Inc. entered into an agreement with SunEdison to develop a 2-mw photovoltaic power plant in Norwood. Following concerns to the original 40-acre site, plans have been put on hold until SunEdison can find an alternative site in Ouray County. Both parties remain committed to developing the project and hope to begin construction as soon as possible, according a spokesperson for SMPA.

Iderdrola Solar Plant

Iberdrola Renewables Inc., a Spanish firm with domestic headquarters in Portland, Ore., will design and build a 30-mw photovoltaic solar power plant on 216 acres of former agricultural land in Alamosa County. The new plant will use solar panels and equipment supplied by SunPower Corp. of San Jose, Calif., and include the construction of a 115-kilovolt transmission line that will carry the power four miles to an Xcel-owned substation. Construction began in November, and the plant is expected to be operational by end of 2011. The project is estimated to cost more than $100 million and create approximately 100 jobs in Colorado.

Cogentrix Solar Plant

North Carolina-based Cogentrix Energy LLC will break ground on a 30-mw solar power plant near Alamosa next year. Congentrix will own and operate the new plant, and sell the output to PSCo in accordance with a 20-year power purchase agreement. Construction of the facility should begin early next year. The new facility will use concentrating photovoltaic systems supplied by Amonix Inc. of Seal Beach, Calif.

Denver Federal Center

The U.S. General Services Administration is adding 6 mw of solar capacity to the Lakewood campus of The Denver Federal Center. The $39.4-million project is being made possible by federal stimulus grants and is the largest single part of GSA’s effort to add 12 mw of solar power generation capacity at federal buildings nationwide. The GSA estimates that the new systems will save the center more than $360,000 in electricity costs per year. The systems are comprised of solar equipment supplied by the Sharp Electronics and SunWorld. The project is a joint venture of Denver-based Centerre Construction Inc. and E Light Wind and Solar Inc. of Englewood.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

NREL and the U.S. Dept. of Energy partnered with Sun Edison to construct a 1.6-mw photovoltaic system on its campus in Golden. Upon completion, the new RSF will boast more than 1,800 solar panels supplied by German company of Solan SE. The project is being made possible by a power purchase agreement in which PSCo agreed to purchase the system output from Sun Edison for 20 years. Construction of the first 450-kilowatt phase began in August and is expected to be fully operational this month. The remainder of the system will be located on the roof of additional wing and parking structure that are currently under construction and scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.

U.S. Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs Utilities is working with SunPower Corp. to construct a 30-acre, 6-mw photovoltaic system at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The project is funded by stimulus grants through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. SunPower and Springs Utilities will each own 50% of the renewable energy credits and environmental benefits associated with the system. Construction commenced in November, with operation expected by summer 2011.

Denver International Airport

Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group Inc. is working with Denver-based Oak Leaf Energy Partners to develop a new 4.4-megawatt photovoltaic installation at Denver International Airport. Constellation will own and operate the system, and DIA will purchase the system’s output over a 20-year period. Intermountain Electric Inc., an Aurora-based unit of Houston-based Quanta Services, began construction in late October. The system will occupy a 30-acre site north of the airport terminal and feature solar panels supplied by China-based Yingli Solar. Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2011. The project is the third large-scale solar installation for the airport, with a 2-megawatt installation commissioned in 2008 and a 1.6-megawatt facility finished earlier this year. Both were installed and managed by Intermountain Electric.

Study Shows Solar Workforce on Rise

A new national survey of solar labor market conditions released by the nonprofit The Solar Foundation in Washington, D.C., ranked Colorado sixth in the nation for solar jobs, with 254 solar firms employing 2,582 people in the state.

According to the survey, the state’s solar firms—any company performing work related to photovoltaics, solar water heating and solar space heating and cooling—anticipate their workforce to grow by 23%, or approximately 592 new jobs, over the next year.

This increase is a significantly higher rate than the 2% growth expected in the economy.