Opinion | Letter: Grand County is rich in solar energy resources
November 9, 2018
Those of us lucky enough to call Grand County home know that we are rich in an abundance of natural resources: clean air, majestic mountains, clear lakes and rivers, and world-class outdoor recreational opportunities. What many people do not know is that we are also blessed with some of the best and most affordable solar energy resources in the country. Those pictures you see of solar developments in the desert? They may get a lot of sun, but high temperatures can reduce their power output by 25%. Solar panels actually work best in colder sunny climates and at higher altitudes: places like Grand County Colorado.
Even better, solar power is getting cheaper and cheaper. Today, it is possible to get residential solar panels installed for less than half the cost compared to 10 years ago, with the lifetime electricity savings paying for the panels several times over. With the falling costs of solar, we've seen an increase in the number of homes and businesses in the area installing systems. Perhaps you, too, have seen someone in your neighborhood decide to "go solar" recently.
Utilities are cashing in as well: thanks in part to Colorado's abundant solar energy resources, our local utilities are seeing solar energy prices between 2 and 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour—cheaper than many traditional fossil fuel sources of energy. The Mountain Parks Electric board of directors recently approved plans to build a 1.3 megawatt solar project in Jackson County–enough to power 300 homes– that "will save money on wholesale power costs with every kilowatt-hour generated by this solar array," according to General Manager Tom Sifers. That's a win-win! Grand County also has several sites that are well suited for solar development.
As a member-owned electric cooperative, feedback from local residents is important. If you like what our cooperative is doing with regard to renewable energy, be sure to thank your board members! You can find out who represents you at: http://www.mpei.com/content/board-directors.
Kristen Taddonio, member of Mountain Parks Electric's Green Power Advisory Committee, Fraser