Major solar project near Pueblo rejected by county commissioners
Pueblo has very rapidly become the solar capital of Colorado. Any why not?
It has transmission because of the trio of coal-fired power plants called Comanche. It also some of the West’s best solar resources, 8 or 9 on scale of 10, according to the solar developer of the first big project, Bighorn, which was completed last November on property owned by Evraz, operator of the steel mill.
But it may not have a project called Pronghorn Solar Park. The Pueblo County commissioners last week rejected the project proposed for 831 acres near the power plant. The reason? Incompatibility with an adjacent residential property called Lakeside Manor Estates.
A resident, Alan Glasscock, told the Pueblo Chieftain that he believed in solar enough to have 24 solar panels on his property but he wasn’t ready to have 300,000 panels nearby.
“We are basically going to be in a solar oven and instead of Lakeside Manor Estates we are going to be known as ‘solar panel-side’ manor estates,” he said.
The solar developer, Leeward Renewable Energy, had rejected an alternative site because of lack of electrical infrastructure. It had promised solar panels would be no closer than 800 feet and interrupted by vegetation aided by delivery of water. It indicated plans to rework the proposal it had submitted.
The commissioners in February had approved standards governing solar development. As explained by the Chieftain, the commissioners were hoping to find a balance between rural ranchers hoping to cash in on land leases for solar project and residents of housing developments who don’t want solar panels blocking their views.
Mike Kruger, chief executive of Colorado Solar and Storage Association, a trade organization, expressed disappointment. “After spending seven or eight months rewriting the regulation, a project that conformed with those regulations was still defeated by NIMBYism,” he said. “This will be a problem across Colorado as we transition (to non-carbon sources).”