Just weeks after crews broke ground on a solar array for Colorado Springs Utilities, the Boulder-based company handling the project unloaded the unfinished product to a national energy conglomerate.
The 500-acre Palmer Solar Project southeast of the city is expected to generate 60 megawatts once finished. The firm juwi originally was awarded the contract with Utilities to develop, build and operate the facility for 20 years.
The Colorado-based subsidiary of juwi AG, a German company, still will build the array, but it sold the project to Duke Energy Renewables, Utilities spokeswoman Amy Trinidad said.
Juwi will maintain and operate the array for the first two years of the 20-year contract, Duke spokeswoman Jennifer Garber said by email. After that, Duke will take over the work.
The Palmer project will be Duke’s second array in Colorado. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company also bought the Victory Solar Power Project in Adams Count from juwi in 2016, according to juwi’s website.
“If somebody else bought (the Palmer project), that meant they saw enough profit in it. Which means we paid too much,” said City Councilman Bill Murray, a member of Utilities’ board of directors.
Murray pledged to look into the matter further.
But Trinidad said the sale should not change the power purchase agreement with Utilities, so rates should remain constant regardless of which company owns the array. She noted that Utilities’ contract remains with juwi.
“As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed on our end,” she said.
Utilities contracted with juwi because private companies can claim renewable energy tax credits for such projects, but municipal utilities cannot. This makes construction less expensive, resulting in lower electric rates on the back end, she said. As to why Duke would buy the array, Trinidad was less sure.
Garber said the company is “always looking for opportunities to build and support the development of renewable energy resources that will benefit communities around the country.”
She did not respond when asked whether her company bid when Utilities first solicited proposals for the project, but Trinidad said it did not.
Solar panels at the site are expected to go up next month, she said, and the project should be finished by the end of the year.