Black Hollow Solar Project
Why The Black Hollow Solar Project?
Map of Project Study Area
Within this study area, between 1,000 to 1,400 acres of panels will be installed in areas that avoid sensitive environmental habitats and will be considerate of local communities. The final location and layout will be developed based on an iterative design process, including consideration of all environmental and physical constraints, stakeholder feedback (nearby residents, communities and landowners) and local and national engineering and planning requirements, and Weld County’s permitting processes.
Support agriculture and private property rights
Protect and utilize natural resources
Provide land use amenities
Safeguard environmental resources
Black Hollow Solar Frequently Asked Questions
The Black Hollow Solar Project is a 150 megawatt (MW) to 250 MW photovoltaic solar project proposed for western Weld County between Fort Collins and Ault. The Project team has been studying land and working with interested property owners across a study area northeast of Black Hollow Reservoir (see map). Within this study area, between 1,000 to 1,400 acres of panels will be located in areas that avoid sensitive environmental habitats and will be considerate of local communities. The final location and layout will be developed based on an iterative design process, including consideration of all environmental and physical constraints, stakeholder feedback (nearby residents, communities and landowners), local and national engineering and planning requirements, and Weld County’s permitting processes. The project will operate for approximately 35 years.
The Project will be owned and operated by 174 Power Global (174PG) and will support Platte River’s core pillars to safely provide reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable energy and services to its owner communities. Platte River’s 2018 Resource Diversification Policy recognizes the need to shift its energy mix options and the project supports Platte River’s Integrated Resource Plan by adding a noncarbon energy source and storage to meet its goals.
174 Power Global was formally established in 2017 as the U.S. development arm of Hanwha, Hanwha Energy USA Holding Corporation (d.b.a 174 Power Global, ‘174PG’), is based in Irvine, California, and currently has a portfolio of approximately 10 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV (photovoltaic) projects and 10GWh of Energy Storage projects under various stages of development, construction and operation. With deep expertise across the full spectrum of the project development cycle, 174PG works closely with landowners, local communities, financial investors and other partners to build highly productive, utility-scale solar power plants throughout North America. Since its formation in 2017, 174PG has signed nearly 2 GW of power purchase agreements and has more than 8 GW of additional projects in the development pipeline. The company was ranked as the 2018 number #1 solar project development company in the United States by Wood Mackenzie. 174PG is part of Hanwha Group, a Fortune Global 500 Company, and directly owned by Hanwha Energy which has developed a total of 4.3 GW solar projects globally. For more information, please visit: https://174powerglobal.com/
174 Power Global Corporation’s name was inspired by the 174 petawatts (PW) of energy the earth receives from the sun at any moment.
Platte River is a not-for-profit utility that safely generates and delivers reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable energy and services to its owner communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland in Colorado. Platte River’s generation portfolio includes coal, natural gas, hydro, wind and solar resources. Natural gas that fuels Platte River’s combustion turbines comes from the Denver-Julesburg basin, which includes Weld County. Platte River relies on combustion turbines to meet peak demand periods and to provide energy to other utilities throughout the year to ensure reliability. For more information, please visit: https://www.prpa.org/
An estimated 320 full-time workers will be on the job throughout the construction period, ranging from 150 to 450 workers during peak activity during the 12 to 14-month construction period. A portion of the jobs for this project will be open to the local workforce who have the skills and experience from the oil and gas and construction industry. During the operation and maintenance of the facility, 8 to 10 more jobs are expected to be added.
Although difficult to quantify in advance of final design and contracting with the various suppliers and construction companies, construction of the Project will benefit local businesses through the purchase of supplies and services, and from hotel stays to food to equipment.
The Project will be compatible with oil and gas development and tangibly demonstrate the region’s commitment to renewable energy, which is increasingly important to businesses seeking to locate new or expand existing facilities.
The Project strengthens the regions capacity to serve electrical demands and does not impact existing community water and sewer services.
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This study area was selected through an evaluation of 22 potential project locations. The site of the Black Hollow Solar Project was selected for the following advantages:
• Ample land available and the ability to accommodate a wide range of photovoltaic solar layouts that are considerate of sensitive areas and residential views
• The lands are relatively flat and unshaded, with south facing aspects
• Existing oil and gas operations can continue and are compatible with project operations
• Existing transmission infrastructure provides a point for interconnection and no significant lengths of new transmission lines would be required
All reasonable alternatives within this study area were thoroughly assessed for their ability to meet requirements to protect and enhance the natural and socio-economic conditions in Weld County; mitigations will be developed with stakeholders throughout the planning and permitting process to further reduce impacts.
The Project will power approximately 43,000 homes per year under Platte River’s power purchase agreement (PPA) for 150 MW of generating capacity.
The Project will deliver some of the lowest cost energy in the nation and help Platte River continue providing power to its owner communities at the lowest wholesale rates in Colorado. Platte River factored costs for this Project into its long-range planning models.
The proposed facility will consist of single axis tracker PV modules that will be mounted on racking systems and arranged in multiple blocks. Similar technology is being used at a dozen other solar farms in Weld and Larimer counties, such as at Highway 14 and Weld County Road 19. The current plan anticipates up to 800,000 photovoltaic solar modules. The panels are grey-blue, non-reflective and about 8 to 10 feet tall.
Photovoltaic solar is one of the only land uses that can be installed and later removed without impacting long-range agricultural use of the land. Land proposed for this project is not irrigated.
• Photovoltaic solar is one of the quietest and cleanest forms of energy generation. Its construction activities are less disruptive than other industrial construction. Noise from construction will be managed through development of a noise mitigation plan and will meet Weld County’s noise standards for construction. The Project will be designed to accommodate an adequate buffer distance to minimize noise effects on adjacent land uses.
• The entire site will not need to be graded. Dust generated during construction will be mitigated by spraying water along site roads and areas under construction, along with other best practices.
• In order to maximize the output of the solar cells while minimizing the glare from the solar cells, the glass face of a standard crystalline PV panel is designed with greater than 95% light absorption. Anti-reflective coating on the glass, which is incorporated in the manufacturing process, increases light absorption even further. As a result, nearly 97% of the light that strikes a solar panel is absorbed and turned into electricity – leaving minimal light to reflect off and create any potential glare from the solar array.
The Project is being developed with input from landowners, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Weld County and other state and federal agencies to minimize impacts to natural resources, including wildlife and wetlands. For example, surveys conducted to identify and protect active raptor nests have ultimately helped to determine the Project’s final location and timing of construction. The Project will be set back a minimum of 1/2-mile from Black Hollow Reservoir and no designated critical habitat areas will be impacted by the Project. Most of the areas under study have already been disturbed through prior agricultural activities.