Colorado State University, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures Creating One of Largest Solar Plants at a U.S. University

Note to Reporters: Photos of the existing solar plant at Colorado State University are available with the news release at

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures has begun a major expansion of the Colorado State University solar plant at the Foothills Campus, creating what will be one of the largest solar plants at a U.S. university.

The 3.3-megawatt addition – immediately adjacent to the 2-megawatt facility that opened in December 2009 on Chrisman Field – is expected to be completed within four months, according to FRV. The total 5.3-megawatt facility on 30 acres would be the largest associated with a university in the country, according to current statistics kept by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

With the expansion, the entire project will generate a total of 8.5 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually – enough to meet more than one-third of the annual electrical energy use of the CSU Foothills campus.

“This expansion is just one of Colorado State University’s many contributions to sustainability on campus and throughout the culture of the university – from environmentally minded students who are taking personal action to reduce energy use in the residence halls to researchers who are saving lives through technological advancements in the developing world,” said Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University. “We are proud to be among the leaders in higher education in partnering with private industry to advance renewable energy development.”

“By securing solar power through a power purchase agreement rather than major capital investment, Colorado State University will benefit from a renewable energy system that is cost-effective for years to come,” said Jose Benjumea, president of FRV. “This collaborative effort serves as an example of how successful public-private partnerships can help universities and other public institutions make the most of financing, including tax credits and other incentives available for solar energy.”

FRV will own the solar facility and will be responsible for operating and maintaining it over the 20-year contract term. FRV and CSU have entered into a Power Purchase Agreement, which enables CSU to purchase the electricity produced by the plant at fixed rate for 20 years without any upfront cost to the university. The university also has the option to purchase the solar plant at the end of the 20-year contract for the fair market value. At that time, the university could claim the full value of the renewable energy credits generated by the plant.

The project is part of the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards program. Xcel will purchase the renewable energy credits generated by the system in support of Colorado’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – a statewide policy requiring utilities to generate 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The Larimer County Commissioners approved the expansion this summer as part of the 1041 permit regulation process for large-scale utility projects.

Global Energy Services will install the project as a FRV contractor; Advanced Energy (AE) of Fort Collins is supplying the inverters for the project.