Community solar garden approved

ALAMOSA– Nearly two and one-half years after it was first proposed, the city will lease a portion of its property north of the cemetery for an Xcel Energy Community Solar Garden.

The Alamosa City Council recently authorized the city manager to enter into a site control agreement with Alamosa South Solar, CSG, LLC, the entity that Community Energy Solar, Inc. designated to manage the project. The agreement allowed Alamosa South Solar to include the 12-acre site in any permitting applications it would require and to investigate the suitability of the site over a two-year period.

It also contemplated the parties entering into a 30-50 year lease for solar production.

Pursuant to the authority granted in the site control agreement, Alamosa South Solar obtained a permit for construction of the proposed solar farm on the property, located just east of Mobile Century Mobile Home Park. The permit requires certain fencing and screening, and the proposed lease requires that the tenant comply with the permit conditions and maintain the leased property in accordance with all city regulations.

The lease calls for a rent of $1,000 per year until the facility is constructed, at which time it increases to $500 per acre per year, escalating at 1% annually.  The leased property is approximately 12 acres, so the first-year commercial rent would be approximately $6,000 per year.

The lease is for an initial 30-year term, with two 10-year renewal terms at the option of the tenant.  At the termination of the lease, all above and below-ground equipment must be removed and the soil surface restored to reasonably similar to its original condition.

Community Energy Solar Inc. contacted city staff on April 5th, 2017 inquiring if the city would be interested in leasing a portion of the property as part of Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Garden program. The company met with the city council during a work session in May of 2017 to discuss the project and council was open to leasing the property.

Items discussed was the desire to have the company hold a neighborhood meeting to ensure the surrounding blocks were aware of the potential project, including language in the contract for the removal of the equipment if not renewed, and issuing an RFP to ensure a transparent process.

Based on council direction, the staff issued a Request for Proposals to determine if there was any interest in the proposed location. The City only received one proposal, which was from Community Energy Solar, Inc. As requested, Community Energy Solar held a neighborhood meeting on April 12, 2018.