IBM and NextEra Win Bid for New 6-MW Solar Array in Colorado

IBM NextEra Xcel Energy solar array Boulder Colorado
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Xcel Energy recently awarded a 6-MW solar array project in Colorado to IBM and developer NextEra Energy Resources, Solar Industry magazine reported. The partners plan to build a ground-mounted solar tracking array on 54 acres of IBM’s campus in Boulder that was previously farmland.

The new solar array for IBM’s facility was the only bid out of 15 that Xcel Energy awarded under its 2017 Large Solar*Rewards program in Colorado. The utility had issued an RFP in July, and plans to make two more offerings under the program: in 2018 for up to 10 MW, and 2019 for up to 14 MW, according to Solar Industry.

“By installing the 6 MW array, IBM anticipates reducing emissions by as much as 5,900 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 1,300 cars off the road for a year,” the magazine’s Joseph Bebon reported.

IBM is collaborating on the project with NextEra Energy Resources, which develops, constructs, and operates energy infrastructure. If the solar array produces more energy than the facility needs, the extra energy will be added to Xcel Energy’s grid and IBM could either receive a credit on their utility bill, or carry the excess over to the next month, Xcel Energy’s site explains.

Although Xcel Energy’s Large Solar*Rewards program bid has already been awarded, the utility continues to offer Small and Medium Programs. Small is 25 kilowatts or under while medium system sizes must be 25.01 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts.

“Incentives are paid to the owner of the solar system based on the amount of energy the solar system produces in cents per kilowatt hour,” the utility’s website says. Every month, 2 MW of capacity is allocated to the Small Program for a total of 24 MW per year. And every quarter, 6 MW of capacity gets allocated to the Medium Program for a total of 24 MW.

Adding solar capacity is one aspect of energy management for IBM. Over the summer, IBM’s manager of global energy and environment Greg Peterson told Energy Manager Today that the company is aiming for 3.5% annual energy conservation. Many of the tech giant’s facilities worldwide have cutting-edge systems installed to help save energy, he said.

Once the new array has been installed on IBM’s campus in the Gunbarrel area of Boulder, the area around it will be used for grazing sheep. The array is also set to become the largest in Boulder, the Daily Camera reported. Construction should be completed by later next year.

Vendors mentioned in the article:

  • NextEra Energy Resources
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