UPDATED: Moffat County approves contract for solar project installation at new county courthouse | CraigDailyPress.com

UPDATED: Moffat County approves contract for solar project installation at new county courthouse

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect that the entire cost of the project will be covered by congressionally directed spending, and the county will not be using any money from the general fund for the project.

Aiming to offset energy use and cut costs over the next 30 years, Moffat County commissioners have approved a contract to move forward on the installation of a solar array at the new county courthouse. 

The contract with McKinstry Essention LLC was approved by commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 15, after two McKinstry representatives presented the project details. 

McKinstry has been working on the design and engineering of the solar field project at the new Moffat County courthouse at 1198 W. Victory Way in Craig. The main goals of the project are to increase on-site energy generation, minimize reliance on local utilities and reduce utility costs for the county. 

Ashley Brasovan, an account executive, and Martin Beggs, the renewable energy program manager, attended the commisoners’ meeting via Zoom. 

The total project cost is expected to be $803,617, though the project is eligible for an Inflation Reduction Act rebate of 25.5%, which the county could apply for once the solar installation is complete. After the IRA rebate, the total contract amount is for $598,695.

Additionally, the project will be covered by the congressionally directed spending that Sen. Bennet spearheaded in 2022, so the county will not be using any general funds for the project.

Brasovan said the project’s price tag includes a full turn-key approach, as well as the staff, support and equipment needed for the complete installation. The project also includes a data acquisition program, which will track the solar performance and generation, and the contract includes training on the data system.

The solar array is planned to be installed to the east of the new courthouse building. It will be a ground-mounted system that’s expected to produce close to 317,000 kilowatt hours in its first year of production. Beggs estimated the system will produce $29,741 in annual utility savings with a 30-year lifespan, which means that the system would have a 16-year pay-off period.

An additional benefit to the project is to hedge against future utility rate increases. 

Tipton added that Yampa Valley Electric Association recently changed its metering policy for commercial installs from 150 kilowatts to 25 kilowatts, essentially reducing the level of renewable energy that can be produced per meter. Moffat County will be grandfathered in at the higher rate as long as the system is installed by 2023, which has directed the project timeline for next year.

Once the contract is finalized, McKinstry plans to purchase the project equipment by June 2023 and do the installation between July and September. Beggs said the lead time on solar electrical equipment, much like a lot of other equipment, is pretty long, so the project team wants to get the equipment purchased as quickly as possible. 

McKinstry will have complete training on the system and data acquisition in the fall. The project should be completed and the contract closed out by December 2023. 

Tipton also reported to commissioners on Thursday that the courthouse construction contract is 87% complete. The exterior and interior doors have been installed, the carpet is 75% installed and construction has begun on the bathroom tiles and interior trim. 

Due to some delays on electrical equipment, local officials estimate the courthouse construction will be complete and ready for move in in March 2023.

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