A solar garden similar to this Xcel Energy one in Boulder has been proposed for Craig.

Clean Energy Collective/courtesy

A solar garden similar to this Xcel Energy one in Boulder has been proposed for Craig.

Craig to get renewable energy through solar panels

Solar energy is on the horizon in Craig.

Solar panel manufacturer Clean Energy Collective is in discussions with Yampa Valley Electric Association and Craig City Council about where they can build a 5-acre solar panel garden.

The garden would have about 2,300 panels and could provide power in roughly 200 homes.

“Anybody who’s a customer of YVEA will be able to own panels,” said Paul Spencer, president of Clean Energy Collective.

Each panel would cost about $800 and would help the consumer save about $45 on their energy bill per year.

Sasha Nelson, a field organizer for Conservation Colorado, said she is thrilled that solar panels will be part of Moffat County’s landscape.

“I love giving people choices. I am always an advocate for helping us be more sustainable,” Nelson said. “I hope individuals in the community will get behind this project.”

YVEA Board Chairman Dean Brosious said that while the panels would be built in Craig, most of the consumers likely would come from Steamboat Springs.

Clean Energy Collective “picked Craig because it’s more affordable,” Brosious said.

Mayor Terry Carwile said he is behind the project because it could help Craig diversify in energy.

“We’ve always been an energy leader,” Carwile said. “So now, oil and gas is getting quite a bit of attention. But if we want to be a leader in the energy business we got to do this.”

YVEA has a renewable energy requirement. Thirty percent of their energy needs to be renewable by 2020.

Carwile said that means Craig should jump on the opportunity because otherwise, YVEA will just look to other communities.

“If they can’t purchase renewable energy here, they have to buy it elsewhere,” he said.

Last week, the City Council went over possible locations and turned down the first option that would have been next to the Public Safety Center on First Street.

City Council members said a good area for the panels could be by the new wastewater treatment center. Clean Energy Collective had proposed paying $1,200 per year for the plot by the Public Safety Center.

“My preference is the property be on First Street, but the important thing is that the thing is built,” Carwile said.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

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