School Board moving forward with solar subscription

District 51 School Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to proceed with a plan to subscribe to a solar garden that will be operated by an outside party on district land.

San Francisco-based solar development firm EcoPlexus Inc. plans to built a “garden” of solar panels on a 10.56 acre property the school district owns at 2930 D 1/4 Road.

School board members approved an option to lease agreement for the land June 18 and Grand Junction Planning Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the project June 25.

The remaining piece of the puzzle for construction to begin is approval of an agreement for the district to subscribe to receive 40 percent of the energy produced by the solar garden. Tuesday’s vote allows subscription negotiations between the district and EcoPlexus to begin.

The 2-megawatt project needs at least 10 subscribers, according to District 51 Resource Conservation Manager Eric Anderson. Each subscriber would get discounted energy prices through Xcel Energy, which would funnel all of the solar energy into its electrical system and handle energy credits awarded to project subscribers.

“We would stand to save $53,000 in the first year” of the 20-year agreement, Anderson told the board.

If all goes as planned, EcoPlexus will have the project operational within nine months of a subscription agreement and operate the garden continuously for the next two decades or sell to another firm who will operate it. Worst-case scenarios, Anderson said, would be if the value of energy credits will erode over time or EcoPlexus would default.

Board members decided even with the worst scenario, there would be potential for the district to sell the high quality, Canadian solar panels on the project.

Board President Greg Mikolai said if someone acquired the project through a lien or purchase, they would either operate it as usual or leave the equipment alone, which would make it the district’s property. “That means we either continue as we are, they remove the equipment, or they abandon it and we operate it or salvage it,” Mikolai said.

“We don’t really want to own this,” Anderson said. “Do we want to save money? Yes. Do we want to make use of a piece of land currently generating zero revenue for us? Yes.”


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George Seely’s letter in today’s Sentinel (“John Justman’s column presented rational view”) epitomizes how blatant hypocrisy and outright falsehoods pass for “rational economic opinion” among local “conservatives”.

Justman’s insipid column (“Free-market policies aid county, not green energy subsidies”, Sep. 1) propounded the purported benefits of the “free market” (but heavily subsidized) oil & gas industry—citing the Grand Valley Transportation Authority’s conversion to natural-gas-fueled buses as an example.  Of course, that widely-acclaimed transition to greener energy was accomplished only with federal “green energy subsidies”.

Justman’s ideological tunnel-vision was also revealed in today’s Sentinel (“School Board moving forward with solar subscription”), which describes a cooperative public-private initiative to save School District 51 perhaps $1 million over 20 years by building a solar panel “garden” on publicly-owned land leased to a private enterprise.  Of course, that “green energy” project is also made possible by green “energy credits” (i.e., “subsidies”).

Moreover, as Tim Pipe opines in today’s letters (“U.S. should have adopted alternative fuels in the 80’s”), Justman dubiously compared the sunny Grand Valley and the windy West to northern Europe.  And—as Bob Weiffenbach observes in his on-line response (“John Justman column perpetuates sense of victimhood on West Slope”. Sep. 3) – his column was replete with “mistakes and inaccurate data”, falsely portraying our lagging local economy as the “victim” – rather than the beneficiary – of governmental support.

Meanwhile, both Weiffenbach and (previously) Doug Hovde exposed Justman’s self-serving hypocrisy—observing that he’s applied for and received some $190,000 to $200,000 in federal farm subsidies since 1995.

Thus, not only is Justman religiously devoted to a mythical “free-market”, he personally benefits from a corrupt give-away program that – according to recent GAO reports—pays (and fails to recoup) subsidies to deceased farmers and inadequately audits income-eligibility.  Likewise, our pseudo-“conservative” Congressman Scott Tipton voted to pay farm subsidies to his cronies on the House Agriculture Committee!

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