Ambitious With Solar

DENVER — Comments Woods Allee, director of capital planning and special projects at Denver International Airport (DEN), “In 2001, the state passed a statute with a RES (renewable energy standard) which required some incentives on the part of the State...


DIA Solar One was commissioned in Sept. 2008; and DIA Solar Two provides all of the energy for the airport’s fuel farm, meaning the fuel storage and distribution system is operated on solar-generated energy. DIA Solar Three is currently under construction.

Energy savings

“Solar energy currently generates about 2.5 percent of our overall annual energy consumption,” says Allee. “We draw about 219 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year at the airport. We get about 3.3 million kilowatt-hours per year from DIA Solar One, and about 2.5 million from DIA Solar Two. Solar Three should generate close to 8 million kilowatt-hours per year; that should put us close to the 5 percent range of our total load being renewable energy.

“Our objective is to generate more renewable energy here; we’d like to get to the 20 percent range.”

For DIA Solar One (a 7.5-acre single-access tracking system) the power purchase agreement (PPA) is a fixed-rate per kilowatt hour for the first five years, says Allee.

“The way that stands now, we buy the power from the developer at 6 cents a kilowatt-hour; we then sell it back to Xcel at their annual incremental cost of fuel,” he relates.

“Our expectation is if power costs escalate at 3 percent or more over the next 20 years, we will save money. There is a risk element involved, but we did look at the historical rate for power prices over the last 20 years, and they’ve escalated at some 3.8 percent.”

With DIA Solar Two (also some 7.5 acres; a 25-degree fixed-tilt system), again there is a ground lease and a PPA involved. The PPA sets a floor of 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, “So we buy the power from the developer at the greater of 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, or 90 percent of tariff,” says Allee.

“We’ve now had that operating for about a year. Over the first year we saved a few thousand dollars.”

Solar three

Remarks Allee, “We worked with Oak Leaf on all three projects in varying capacities; they were the developer on Two and Three. MP2 is the financial entity that is the owner and operator of DIA Two; Constellation Energy is going to be the owner/operator of DIA Three.”

Solar Three will be some 4.5 megawatts, a little more than twice the size of the original two installations combined.

The new installation is modeled after the Solar Two deal — 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, or 80 percent of tariff. The project will cover some 28-acres, and will be a 25-degree fixed-tilt system.

Construction on Solar Three began in September of last year, and Allee expects the installation to be complete by June of this year.

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