Solar Farm ‘Flips the Switch’ for Co-op Members
United Power, Inc., and Silicon Ranch Corporation announced that the largest co-op solar farm in the state of Colorado is now live and generating renewable energy for United Power members in northern Colorado.
The solar farm, approximately 4 miles east of Fort Lupton on Highway 52, occupies 90 acres and features a single-axis tracking system to allow 160,000 panels to follow the sun across its daily arc. The 13-megawatt project produces enough carbon-free electricity to help power more than 2,500 homes and businesses in Weld County.
The project itself is the result of an initiative by United Power to incorporate cost-effective renewable energy sources to complement its generation portfolio. United Power is the rural electric cooperative responsible for providing electric service to more than 78,000 meters representing more than 200,000 customers in Colorado’s northern Front Range. Under its agreement with Silicon Ranch, which will own and operate the facility, United Power will receive all the energy produced over a 20-year period. In July, the Smart Electric Power Alliance recognized United Power as one of the top 10 electric cooperatives in the country in all six solar categories evaluated. United Power was named as the number one co-op in annual megawatts.
“United Power is excited that this partnership with Silicon Ranch is allowing us to add clean, renewable energy to our power mix,” said Darryl Schriver, United Power CEO. “It illustrates how United Power is trying to strike a balance between traditional and renewable energy sources on our system. The project is also part of a concerted effort by the cooperative to diversify our power sources to provide more predictable power costs for our members today and into the future.”
Silicon Ranch President and Chief Executive Officer Matt Kisber said, “The leadership at United Power deserves tremendous credit for their vision and commitment to provide competitively-priced, renewable power to their membership. As long-term owners of our projects, we take great pride in being active members in the communities we serve and are excited about the economic and environmental benefits this solar farm has brought and will continue to bring to Fort Lupton and the surrounding region.”
McCarthy Building Companies was contracted by Silicon Ranch to build the facility and hired more than 100 workers, the vast majority of whom were hired locally, for the seven-month construction effort. McCarthy has an office in the Denver area and is one of the largest American-owned construction firms in the country.
“We have been fortunate to develop a number of meaningful relationships here in Colorado, not only with our partners at United Power, but also with Upstate Colorado Economic Development, the Weld County Board of County Commissioners, the Fort Lupton City Council, local city and county planning departments, and our local project partners,” Kisber said. “We celebrate the commissioning of this solar plant as a true group effort, and we are grateful for all who had a hand in making this facility possible.”
United Power and Silicon Ranch held a dedication ceremony at the solar farm on Monday, September 26. In attendance were local, regional, and state officials, representatives from the project team, and students from Fort Lupton High School, who received a special tour of the facility.