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.

Solar panel garden construction to start in Craig in fall

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— Pending permit approval, Craig soon will see the construction of its first solar panel garden this fall.

The project has been in the planning stages for about a year but was held up when the company behind it, Clean Energy Collective, couldn’t get approval from its title insurance company to use the Craig land it had leased.

The Craig City Council agreed to lease a plot of land to Clean Energy Collective in July — a 5-acre plot off Moffat County Road 177 near the wastewater treatment plant — but the company’s title insurance company said it couldn’t cover that plot because Trapper Mine owned the mineral leases there.

Instead of moving to a new location in Routt County, Clean Energy Collective worked with a different title insurance company.

“We went out and identified a different title company that legally understood the circumstances a lot better than other folks,” said Todd Davidson, director of marketing for Clean Energy Collective. The title company "was able to assure that if we ran into any issues, (it) would be able to represent us.”

Davidson said he was “super excited” that the project could take off.

“I love the community. It’s a great relief to see this resolved and see this move forward,” he said.

This location works out better than Routt County options would have, Davidson said.

“We’re able to look at the projected solar exposure a given piece of land has anywhere on the planet,” he said. “Craig just naturally has more sun and more exposure than the heart of (Steamboat Springs). So Craig is a great location. It provides the optimum sun exposure.”

Now, the company needs to go through the permitting process, but Davidson said he is sure it will work out.

“We really don’t foresee any issues going through those particular hoops,” he said.

Craig Mayor Terry Carwile was relieved the project worked out. It will make use of a piece of property that otherwise would not be highly valued, he said.

“It’s a marginal piece of property that’s never been developed for anything else,” Carwile said.

As part of Craig and Clean Energy Collective’s lease agreement, the city will receive 5 kilowatts of power each year from the garden. That equals about $800 worth of savings for the city each year. The whole garden can power about 200 homes.

All Yampa Valley Electric Association customers can purchase a panel if they want to cut back on their electric bill and use renewable energy. Panels cost about $850 each. This also helps YVEA be in compliance with Colorado law, which mandates that utility companies get 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2020.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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