Solar panel installation at Montezuma County Fairgrounds completed – The Journal

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It took six weeks for Shaw Solar to install the solar panels at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. (Mike Ellis/Courtesy Photo)

The project has been in the works since 2019

After a six-week installation period and nearly five years of planning, a 154 kW solar panel installation project was completed at the Montezuma-County Fairgrounds by Shaw Solar. The project has reportedly been in the works since 2019.

“It’s a biggie,” Shaw Solar’s Mike Ellis told The Journal.

According to Ellis, Montezuma County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Candelaria contacted Shaw Solar in 2019 about potentially heading up the project, but the project went through a few obstacles before coming to its completion.

“He called me in 2019 because we had done some solar for the Cortez Sanitation District, where he is a board member, and he was curious about the prospect and the possibility of solar for the fairgrounds,” Ellis said. “We did some investigating and found that it would be a great solution.”

Despite the investigation pointing to the positive aspects of adding solar to the fairgrounds, there were some challenges that popped up along the way.

“Empire Electric was not allowing more than what they call ‘distributed energy’ which is solar or any type of power that they inject into their grid,” Ellis said. “We waited, and in the meantime, we did some other projects with Montezuma County and they did a study and found that they would be able to add additional solar to the roof of the fairgrounds.”

The project finally came to fruition after the county applied for and was awarded a grant that paid for around 75% of the project.

“The grant kicked things into gear,” Ellis said. “It does 100% of the power requirements are the arena building and the adjacent building. It’s a big deal. Montezuma County had a lot of solar on their buildings, and that isn’t usual.”

Ellis added that the solar panels provide the majority of the power for the fairgrounds, and the solar was “designed and installed to satisfy two of the five electrical meters” on the property.

The project was completed around a month ago, and it took six weeks to complete once they were given the official approval to start the installation.

He said that this solar project is the fourth of a series of projects done in Montezuma County, outranking Durango in regards to solar installation and scope.

“It’s amazing this but Montezuma County is pretty forward-looking from my point of view,” Ellis said.

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