President Obama was in Denver Tuesday to sign The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known to most of us as the stimulus bill. That bill includes money for alternative energy, but federal buildings at the Denver Federal Center (DFC) are already using alternative energy.
The Denver Federal Service center built the Denver Federal Solar Park as part of a goal to become one of the most sustainable business campus in the country by 2020.
“We came online just over a year ago, on Jan. 4, 2008,” says Douglas Porter, program manager for the Denver Federal Center Service Center. “Last year we produced about 1.8 megawatt hours, enough for about 150 homes.”
Porter told the Daily Debrief with Amy Morris and Chris Dorobek that the solar park takes up about 6 acres and has over 6,000 solar panels.
What we do here at the Federal Center is, [the energy produced in the solar park] feeds into our electrical grid that we maintain here to feed about 30 federal buildings. On a typical summer day, it’ll provide about 10 percent of the peak power load, but if you consider that we draw power 24 hours a day for our computer systems and so forth, overall we provide about three percent of our power load for the buildings.
Colorado passed a renewable energy requirement in 2004, the act requires the state’s utility companies to provide a percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources, with 10 percent of power coming from renewable sources by 2020. Porter credits this act with the DFC being able to get a jump start on renewable energy sources.
When that opportunity arose it basically started to create a couple of things. It created a commodity for something called renewable energy credits, and it also made solar projects more financially affordable, because it made the selling of those energy credits something that could offset the cost of the construction.
Porter says the project, which cost $6.9 million to build and plan, will be paid-off in 14 years, thanks to energy savings and from the sale of renewable energy credits.