Solar array likely will not be built in Craig
June 5, 2014
Craig — Plans for a 5-acre solar garden in Craig probably won't see the light of day anytime soon, if ever.
Now, Craig’s loss could be Routt County’s gain.
"There were basically mineral reservation issues that did not allow us to proceed," said Jonathan Moore, land manager for Clean Energy Collective, the company that would have constructed the solar panel garden in Craig city limits.
The city of Craig agreed to lease a plot of land to Clean Energy Collective in July, in exchange for a 5 kW solar panel that would produce about $800 of energy each year for the city. The solar garden would have been built off Moffat County Road 177 — close to the wastewater treatment plant — and could have powered 200 homes. Any Yampa Valley Electric Association customer could have used electricity from the array at about $850 per panel. It also would have helped YVEA comply with the Colorado law that requires electric utility companies to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
While its decision isn't final, the company is not optimistic about building an array in Craig or even in Moffat County.
Even though Craig owns the ground it was planning to lease to Clean Energy Collective, it doesn't own the minerals. Trapper Mine does. Because the ownership is mixed, Clean Energy Collective hasn't been able to get the go-ahead from its insurers.
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"Our title insurance company would not be able to give us title insurance on” the project, said Richard Miller, land manager for Clean Energy Collective. "Potentially, (Trapper Mine) could come in and get those mineral rights."
Moore said it was a complicated problem.
"We could not get the confidence that the sub-surface estate would not jeopardize our interest," Moore said.
Now the company is looking at properties in Routt County to build the array. Since it hasn't finalized anything, the company isn't disclosing details, Moore said.
Mayor Terry Carwile said the company's decision to look outside Moffat County was a disappointment.
It would have brought construction jobs to Craig, a desperate need since 2013 saw only $2.17 million in construction projects. The array construction would have been more than $1 million.
Moore seconded Carwile's disappointment.
"We were saddened and frustrated. Our understanding was it was a great site," Moore said. "It's been a disappointment for us and everyone involved, including Craig."
Clean Energy Collective won't announce its decision until it's finalized.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.