Fruita officials will put dollars into solar energy at new center

The city of Fruita plans to install a solar energy system in its new community center, a move to go green that city officials hope will also save it some green in the long run.

City officials are sorting through 11 bids they received from companies seeking to build a series of solar panels on the roof of the $11.2 million facility that is expected to open in a year.

Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum said initial estimates are that the 100-kilowatt system would provide up to 30 percent of the electricity needed to run the community center.

“Our goal for the city is to try to use renewable energy and be as green as possible,” he said. “We’re also trying to be fiscally responsible.”

To that end, Nycum said the city plans to forge an agreement with whichever company the city chooses that would call for that company to pay for the installation of the solar panels. The city would purchase power from the company — Nycum said Fruita hopes to lock in that price at a rate that’s less than what it pays Xcel Energy — while Xcel would give the company tax credits.

The company would own the solar panels for 20 years. After that, the city would have the option of purchasing them, Nycum said.

Ultimately, he said, the agreement should benefit all three parties involved: The city will run part of its community center on less-expensive, renewable energy, the solar-panel company will be paid by both the city and Xcel Energy, and Xcel will take another step toward meeting a state requirement that it produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

Nycum said the city hopes to select a firm to install the system by February.


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