RFP for solar project could open door for Craig-based solar facility by 2025 | CraigDailyPress.com

RFP for solar project could open door for Craig-based solar facility by 2025

Water vapor rising from the three stacks of the Craig power station on July 15, 2021.
The Institute for Science & Policy / Denver Museum of Nature & Science

A request is being made that could lead to a 100-plus-megawatt solar facility at or near the location of Craig’s soon-to-close power plant.

Platte River Power Authority, a power provider that services four Northern Colorado communities, is releasing a request for proposal (RFP) that will seek 250 megawatts of solar capacity to help fulfill its customers’ needs, according to a release from the company.

Platte River Power Authority is a partial owner of the Craig power plant, having invested since the 1970s in a small portion of both Craig Unit 1 and Unit 2. With Unit 1 going offline in 2025 and Unit 2 scheduled for 2028, the company’s portfolio, which services Estes Park, Longmont, Fort Collins and Loveland, is shrinking.

But, just as importantly, the company’s investment in Craig’s coal-fired plant means that one of the company’s two transmission lines initiates at the plant. That’s critical because the RFP will require that a solar project or projects be built along the existing transmission line.

“Connecting solar and battery storage on both the transmission and distribution systems will improve reliability and further advance our strategy of system integration,” said Jason Frisbie, CEO of Platte River Power Authority, in a release.

The opportunity for projects might likely be spread across a few locations, and, potentially, bidders.

“The difference here is most of the time utilities like us — Xcel, Tristate — they’ll issue an RFP for however many megawatts they need and want a single project for the total size,” said Platte River Power Authority spokesman Steve Roalstad by phone Wednesday. “We’re asking for smaller-size projects, like 100 megawatts or so.”

That means that multiple projects could be built to satisfy the need, increasing the chance that Northwest Colorado lands one of them. Platte River Power Authority’s other transmission line starts near Wellington, south of the Wyoming border.

According to the release, “developers are encouraged to consider proposing projects that could interconnect with Platte River’s transmission system, including regions in northwest Colorado and the northern Front Range.”

Nothing is guaranteed. A solar provider who responds to the request would have to come to an agreement for land or facilities on or near the existing power plant, and there’s no certainty that the best deal would come in Moffat County — Roalstad said that the technology is such that locations along the transmission line could also work.

But it does create a possibility for a future industry to fill some of the footprints — literally and figuratively — being vacated by the Craig Station in the coming years.

“In theory, Unit 1 comes offline, we will still have the capacity to carry power, but if Unit 1 is offline, there’s no power to carry,” Roalstad said. “So it could be replaced with a solar facility, and the power that used to come from Craig could come from solar. It all depends on the proposals that come back.”

Roalstad said the goal would be to have whatever mixture of projects win their bids online by 2025, when Unit 1 goes offline. Proposals are do Feb. 18, 2022, per the release.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.