On November 5th I met with Fort Collins Utility (FCU) employees John Phelan, Rhonda Gatsky, and Leland Keller to discuss progress on the Utility Owned Distributed Solar (UODS) project.
UODS is the utility leasing property upon which to install their own solar panels. This should be the most affordable way to do solar on rooftops and parking lots. We are asking FCU to thoroughly research and vet the idea. The goal is to find the most financially sustainable and socially equitable way for our public utility to expand solar without using green-spaces (undeveloped lands).
In the summer of 2017 CforSE members asked City Council to direct FCU to explore UODS . Council did so in September 2017. FCU presented “results” in May 2018. CforSE challenged those results and members asked FCU to research a model for public schools. In April 2019 FCU asked Poudre School District if they could lease their roofs. FCU didn’t have any research or modeling to show them and PSD said “No”. I went to council in July 2019 and asked for FCU to develop modeling for commercial scale projects (roofs or parking lots over 20,000 sq ft, such as a school). The meeting on November 5th was to discuss FCU’s new modeling.
At the meeting:
FCU had not done the modeling we asked for. They did update some of their numbers which gained a little more accuracy. There were still basic mistakes in their formulas, out-dated inputs, and guess work in their assumptions. Worst of all they did not do calculations for medium and large size projects (the most important factor). Over two years since Council directed them to research the idea FCU had done very little and what they did do was inaccurate. I let them know that we are not satisfied.
I did, however, bring my own set of calculations derived by using National Renewable Energy Lab research. We discussed the differences and agreed that we would each seek out more accurate numbers. John committed to exploring medium and large size project potential and to begin to identify potential property owners to host those larger projects. We talked about funding possibilities and a timeline of 2023 -2024 to get the first project in the ground.
This meeting represented the greatest progress to date and I feel good that we can meet a 2023 timeline. But only if we keep up the pressure. City staff and leadership have demonstrated time and again that citizen pressure is continuously needed to get results. Thank you for your continued support!